Variety & Variety
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of something my mentor had been saying to me all these years. He constantly gave me The example of the wall as if it's some Key. It goes like this:
"You see this wall?" He points to one just before my living room directly in front us, which leads to the hallway to my bedroom and two others.
"OK." He said, and went to stand behind it. He didn't make a sound and I couldn't see him from where I was standing; just the white wall, and I was facing it.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
He was silent for another minute, while I was trying to guess why the heck..?! It was strange. Then he walked from behind the wall and said, "Did I die just now?"
"But I was completely absent from your senses. You could not see, nor hear me. Of course, you were aware because I was moving in front of your eyes just moments ago...but up to that point, is it reasonable to say that I am dead?"
"You couldn't be dead. You've just returned, and I can see you now." I said.
"I could be dead, though. If you're convinced that I am not active, moving on my own behind the wall which obscures your senses- that is what you will see. I don't like Britney Spears so she's dead. Not only do I not see her, I have my imagination actively removing her from my senses. This can work in reverse, too. Just because I'm standing behind the white wall, I'm also positively alive and doing everything--not one thing exclusively, like watching tv or washing dishes--but absolutely everything."
"You mean you are engaging in everything that I choose to imagine you are doing? Or that you are literally alive while doing a thousand different simaeultaneous actions?" I asked.
"Maybe that's what I mean, maybe not." He said with a smile.
The title of the post is the name for this "view" that came to me in the middle of the night.
I think from this strange lesson-(indeed, a very strange lesson)- I realized something has to be written to describe the life that we choose not to believe in: the one where our life starts at death and is in reverse...moving towards us, and we - using the limitations of our human vessel's senses - correlate fragments of it's unlimited variety into a "choice life"--where choices are made as though they are conscious.
This "view" seems to say "you aren't just The Here-and-Now Moment" as it is happening- your current office job tasks and your friends talking to you on the phone two minutes ago- but you're actually a... excuse me if this sounds bizzare... a "half-dead everything".
You are obviously behind a wall to everyone else. My readers, my family and friends and even me writing a few seconds ago in this blog is at that stage. They think that I am either 1) dead - because they do not have me in their sight and senses, or 2) that I am doing some specific activity (at home alone, at a bar, etc) which they created for me--in actuality, they are transposing a real me that's doing something only they imagine.
This is going to be confusing - and it is even for me to describe... please hold on to something sturdy.....
Non Conclusions - for further writing.
So at this point my mind hurts and I have to take a break because I think it's just crazy to imagine people doing absolutely everything and being dead at the same time--but I'm going to strain my little brain to do some thought work. After all, on a given day I do only think about myself, girls that I'm talking to, and one brother, or just work.
But. Come on. What about Everything else that I can't see - or even physically be able to expirience due to the limitations of 24 hour life cycles? How is it possible to grasp at an active understanding of it. Concepts like fate or destiny are miserly now, though they were very convenient for a while.. Now I want something more substantial.
I truly want to understand what this means but it's very difficult to place it in my current linear-life understanding. Horoscopes and chinese astrology seems to be more in the right direction- even tarot readings that I do on my own...I will see if something comes again at night.
My mentor said that Sherlock Holmes understood a little bit (especially when you hear how he deduces using "facts"-which are merely thousands of transposed "dead realities" he creates), Zizek gets even more of it... and he mentions Ouspensky's Tertium Organum is 'the motherlode'. I don't know, I just feel so feeble.
I will attempt to compile a clearer definition of this "view"- the active use of imagination and correlating "facts" to defy the limits of what little information my senses can bring to my ordinariness.
Regarding some recent changes in my life, I've begun to keep a set of "life lessons" up there in my memory space. They're never going to make sense to someone who's not my age, or in my demographic, but who cares. Here's a few that may or may not be relatable to others. They mean a lot to me because I can see them either protecting me from sticky situations, or altogether causing very lucky situations. These could apply in range of situations--from meeting people, to daily choices like a hot shower or a warm one (warm dehydrates you less, letting you focus better), smiling to the clerk who gives you groceries, and many others--but should be like guides and nothing more.
1. You are always your own worst enemy.
2. Do things yourself if you want them done.
3. A monthly goal.
4. Distractions and well-placed compliments go deep and hard.
5. Be a party at a party.
6. The simplest answer is the truth. Until a simpler answer arises.
7. We all have identical expiriences and are the same as others in many many ways.
8. Don't be greedy or you'll be punished. (new)
9. Always have backup. (new)
10. Subtraction (new)
11. Write it and speak it (new)
I will not explain these because they are all so specific to me, that the examples I'd give would be unfamiliar to most and rather unfair. Maybe, like my friend S says, something will sprout in the imagination...but true changes come from real self-understanding and repeated trials...the ones that set us into a new rotation, like gears inside a delicate watch...onto the next...onto the next. Or shells, that's another good example of growth he's reminded me of.. Each year is a new shell, and it can unexpectedly break, scaring us at first, but the result is we have more room! SO much room!
Optimism should guide all axioms or life principles we choose. At least, that's my opinion to date.
Sonic Sega All-stars Racing is an exciting game. Everything from the brand, to the characters, the narration, sound and color is exciting. The brightness, diversity, and creativity of all the fast moving objects on-screen is like getting a blast of sugar through the eyes. The game doesn't present a significant challenge, nor does it have excessive menus and select screens--it takes seconds to load and I've been playing it for about two weeks now. I don't plan on stopping until I've finished a few more levels at another difficulty level. If I had a friend to play with, I'd skip on Mario Kart for the Wii and go with this one for the PS3 or PC. Wow!
If only more games took what Sonic had.. Fast playability, constant excitment, lots of action and lively, youthful music.
''Dear [My Name Ommitted]
Thank you for submitting sample material from 101 Wicked Ways to Protect and Save Your Money for our review. Although the material is interestingly presented, we regret that the subject matter does not fit our publishing program.
We thank you for thinking of us and wish you the best of luck."
I'm still waiting on a few more I handpicked. Might even have to try another idea before something sticks.
Milla Jovovich stars in a "faithful" re-enactment of strange events in the life of an Alaskan psychiatrist in 2000, as she attempts to understand the coincidences in her patients' struggles.
Now, if you come in expecting to learn the secret to The Fourth Kind film is a virus (as in Resident Evil), or aliens - you're pretty close. It's about aliens. But the entire film takes surgical care to make it seem that the writer (Olatunde Osunsanmi) is going to present something new to the genre.
Instead, Olatunde beats around the bush- denying that alien abductions or aliens are a serious matter using a cardboard cop, as well as a "no nonsense" kind of male psychiatrist. You could not find a pair of movie characters more obtuse, unnaturally antagonizing, and transparent as to their real purpose in the film.
There is nothing frightening, or moving about this film so I am going to spoil it for the reader.
Aliens abduct the protagonist's daughter, and abduct hundreds of people from the town of Nome in Alaska. The FBI continually checks up on the cases but nothing is done about the missing people. She is an insane person. Her husband killed himself and was not murdered. These are the plot points, the 'story'.
(This is the extent of thinking and brainstorming that Olatunde did when writing this for Universal Distributions. Personally, I could have written a more moving propaganda film about aliens and alleged conspiracy theorists - I don't see why he thought he was qualified. Thank you for Not Smoking was an excellent film, and that approach would be more successful in detering people from actually seriously reading on the subject. It contained humor and it screwed with the mind so that in the end you were willing to believe anything; just to settle the confusion about right and wrong. Reality and the fictional one created before your eyes.)
The Fourth Kind concludes with customer-testimonials-esque clips where Jovovich says, effectively: 'despite the content of this film which is propagandistic in nature (fear images, flat-characters designed to demolish the credibility of a particular viewpoint based on the mental status of the arguer), we urge you to take a stance that fits with your beliefs.'
Her testimonial is followed by other testimonials, as well as a credits section that plays various 911 calls of UFO witnesses - especially those in rural areas, with southern accents - and with at least one child talking about them. Basically, archtypes we're all familiar with from X Files, and M. Night's popular "Signs".
Finally, to seal the deal - The Fourth Kind's entire premise of "based on a real doctor's expiriences and documentation" - there is Ebert's review of the film, which states that it is a complete work of fiction, with no real doctor in Alaska, and no cases, etc. etc.
In other words, the best thing about The Fourth Kind is that Olatunde is a slacker when it comes to making a propaganda film. You could even say that he's against the cause himself. He wants you to know that he's lying to you, that's why he's doing such a bad job at his role in creating more "incredible cases" (as in, NOT credible) for UFO's, abductions, and even the acceptance of extraterrestrial things.
That said, this movie will "work" on kids, and quite a few adults..in dimishing their capacity to think by creating vivid images that are then easy to manipulate using TV broadcast key words like "conspiracy theorist". It will work on most people who cannot use wikipedia, the internet and their mind.
This movie was reviewed by media critics (97 critics total): 18%.
The readers(565 total) of Rottentomatoes gave it an overall 53%.
It is with deep sorrow that I begin this post today...
For there is now a real possibility that games will not be cracked any longer by the likes of Razor and Reloaded and Skidrow - with the introduction of Ubisoft's latest DRM. An invasive and anal-probe like service that dotes on your game even more so than Xlive(the windows version of Steam) and the Playstation Network.
A certain "Mars66" user from Piratebay.org forums states:
"Silent Hunter 5 has been cracked only as well as Assassin's Creed 2 so far. You can't progress through the game because the game doesn't count the ships you sink (NG's italicized) so it won't allow you to finish the first campaign because you (apparently) haven't finished any major objectives. (which means that the crack still doesn't work properly, because the game reports to the ubi servers that you sunk something and then the Ubi servers report the mission progress back to the game, whish doesn't happen with the cracked game). Almost the same sh** happens with AC2, but this game doesn't even allow you to get the first mission because of the white screen.
Hope This clarifies that neither of these games have yet been cracked properly.."
(Aside: Similiar systems of DRM were used in the Batman game - successfully deterring pirating to some extent.)
But, I am not pessimistic. I am ever more optimistic. Thus, I end this entry on the oh-so-true words of the poet singers Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy...
".... I am the only one for you
Girl(actual lyric: Video Game) I want to be with you
No one else, only you
Why can't we just make it happen
Baby(" " Video Game), I need you in my life
I thought I told you that we won't stop
I thought I told you that we won't stop
I thought I told you that we won't stop
I thought I told you that we won't stop"
Some games are difficult to describe, but there's a feeling we know and love that draws us to the TV screen, which they clearly symbolize in the mind. Bioshock, Final Fantasy 7, and the many Call of Duty games are clear examples of "setting" - where the realism of the fantastic environments make the game distinct, beautiful, and playable for decades.
We'll start with Final Fantasy 7.
Now, in 2010, the graphics appear very aged. However, this isn't the only means by which we learn to relate to an environment. It's through our interactions, and how real-feeling the actors are. And Final Fantasy 7 has that kind of reality in spades: everyone from Cloud(the main character), to the big red dog give us the sense that they're really living in that world. It's what makes FF7 so special; when the battles and drama finally resolve, we've had suspended our belief for days.
(As a sidenote, the orchestrated theme for FF7 is legendary and helps confirm the reality of the struggles of Cloud, his love-interest Aeris, and the core villains.)
Bioshock's setting is a decadent underwater world.
It's become a global phenomenon probably for the sole fact that it is a technological city based underwater. There's just no other like it to date.. however, it also gains its credibility from the actors who believe, and struggle within their reality to defeat their foes. The more they feel pain, kindness, or fear - the more we want to empathize. If they are similiar enough like us - if they have a sense for justice, or want something that has been denied to them - we'll jump into the suit given to us by the game's creators.
(Sidenote: The breathtaking representation of water in Bioshock is so mesmerizing - it brings the video realism to a new height. The beauty makes us want to believe the rest.)
Call of Duty isn't simply about shooting. It gains emotional-depth with every sweat-soaked, blood-spattered battle. The sound of the firing, the ringing in your ears - it's essential, but what makes it great is its connection to the real world. It is based upon real battles, (though now there are new CoD games based on fictional conflicts), and they are represented fairly. The retorts between soldiers during a battle in a bombed church draws us in, further reducing disbelief - while keeping all the pressure of life-or-death situations on our heads.
So what's the meaning of all the examples above? Video realism is only part novelty graphics. Video realism is mostly the actions we can take in that world, knowing what the result will be for those important individuals we seek to protect from harm and danger.
In the world of Ico, we see expanses of canyons, castles and fields that never end. We're given a moment to see and be there with the main character - then, almost at once, we must pay the price for entering that world. Ghostly creatures appear, and we must fight them off. When the evil queen is killed, the entire world of Ico crumbles into the sea.
I find the metaphor of Ico fitting for the way video games invite us in, but in the end we know they must end as soon as our heroes find their way...and the illusion crumbles. The games that successfully invite us to believe their sights, sounds and their fears - those are the ones that linger all through our lives.
The above "For Your Information" tag appears in the latest trailers of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Immediately after, there is quotation from the US Army, and then images of the Iraq wars, including a well-placed annonymous looking Iraqi... just as the narrator speaks of an "evolving threat".
Observe the cunning for yourself:
Judging from previous games of Clancy that I've played, this one will have a heavy focus on the US Army's favorite new fronts: Yemen, Afganistan, and Iran. Basically, the same base locations many Clancy games have focused on for the past ten years.
(Come back to this post later on to confirm if that prediction is correct.)
Heavy Rain was hailed as revolutionary during its debut at the electronics games shows...and to date, there have been only a few titles which tried to expand the movie-game expirience as far as Quantic Dreams' PS3/PC title. However, even before it's coming release, I've found problems that will likely drag the expirience into the doldrums (for american readers, that simply means "nothing new to see").
I'm curious to find out how close my Pre-Review will be to the Actual Review from Gamespot and 1UP. So here are the main points at which Heavy Rain will likely fail to live up to expectations and a proffesional-title quality:
1. The control scheme is strictly designed for PS3.
The producers have spoken at length during demos of the game as a "totally unique PS3 expirience"- which obviously means the console has been their sole focus. OK. That makes sense.
However, in porting to the PC- Quantic Dream will likely have problems converting the seamless "as you go" expirience to the keyboard and mouse.
I can already see it: the frustrating moments when you're using W,A,S and D keys to walk around and accidentally hit an action button you didn't want to press. It's a great idea on the PS3 which people will enjoy for a few minutes, but overall - it doesn't translate onto the PC.
2. The uncanny valley.
Heavy Rain is full of artifacts in facial animations, as well as motion-capture animations- the things like walking, and running-they just don't look natural.
3. Recent demonstrations have shown glitches in the gameplay.
For example, during an investigation, the main character's sunglasses are floating in the air- then fly into his breast pocket. These indicate that they designers are work-overloaded and can't commit to the depth, and quality of a good product. This is telling me the review will be around 7.8- mostly because graphics and storyline have been given strong emphasis.
4. The voice acting is mediocre.
...Just judging from forty minutes of gameplay. The volume is too high or too low during gameplay. The sound effects and atmosphere seem uneven. This is a sign that the overall production is suffering from inequities- and that will pull the game down even lower when it comes to the final reviews.
My prejudice is based on a past expirience very similar to Heavy Rain - in which a game was ported to the PC, though it was strictly designed for a console (the color X, Y, B buttons, etc). It was filled with interactions and expiriences that were novel to games at the time- much like Heavy Rain. But the gameplay was too unbalanced.
When it comes to novel game expiriences, it's best to stick with what's familiar to gamers and to do it just a little bit better. Gamers love movies, but movies require extra attention to detail- and require all the elements to be correct: musical composition, sound design, animations that don't creep the gamer out, and most of all - it has to Not Frustrate the gamer.
No matter how much I'd like this game to be great and interesting like Mass Effect 2(with its own set of uncanny animations) - I don't believe the Quantic Dream folks have what it takes to get more than a 7.6 or 7.8 rating.
Gametrailers has reported the same issues I first noticed, mainly bad voice acting, fumbling controls, bad animations for characters, and even a lack of replay value- at least in comparison with more traditional rpg titles. GT.com gave it a 8.9 which is pretty high in my opinion, but I understand that the story and music played a large part in pulling up the scores, as well as likeable characters. It looks like it will recieve an 8.9 - I suppose at this point in the early stages of facial animations, the editors are willing to overlook those flaws in favor of the novel presentation of Heavy Rain.
There are a number of things that come to mind when you think of "taboo" or "immoral", and over time the people of this planet have found many things and ideas befitting of those words. At one point, discussions of animals having consciousness was an uneasy topic.
In many schools they teach of a particular time when artists used images to break rules. They wrote long essays on existence, and this was frightening and interesting. It was called the Renaissance; groups of individuals gathered to create a representative circle that connected a new and forward thinking set of views - some that seemed at the time, as "out of time".
There, in that moment of changes and fear, was an awesome event. The beginning of the end of a time, and the fine ringing of a very large bell atop the tower of consciousness.
Today, now. There are peoples who have suffered an earthquake, there are people in war-torn zones, and there are people who are too far away, to see what is happening with their own eyes. But they look into electronic windows that give them glimpses of the shadows of the very real, real suffering.
We, billions, peer inside and believe the images and words and video.
Then, what's left of us... is an amalgam of feelings brought about by the window, the TV, the discussions with family over dinner about Haiti, about 9/11, about everything outside of our community that would never exist had the internet vanished. But it's all here, while some things...some particular ideas, never ever seem to stick.
They simply feel "immoral" to place into the images that the window has brought into our lives. It's a couch that doesn't match the drapes. It's that one person blinking in the family photo. That one simple idea of life that emits so much adrenaline and so much pain when you stop to think about it for a long while....
The year is 2010. There is a robot named ASIMO that understands speech, can run as fast as a child, and there are cameras that can store thousands of pictures, and living pictures, and artists can paint on the cliffs with projectors of light. There are devices that tell the weather, the hour, that play wonderful music from any library or collection you can imagine, and they fit into the palm of your hand- you can even listen to the sounds privately with little circular phones for each ear. Thousands of books fit into little black squares that can be read with a myriad of devices. There are multiple projects to build a functioning human brain inside calculation machines.
It's mind-boggling advancement- and it isn't limited to the United States. The world's cultures have begun to mesh and blend each day...with each leap upward.
Technology, art, the world, the changes-- they seem to shock us everyday. Yet The Gap in our heart, in our mind, and in our souls- beats loudly and violently. It urges us into curiousity, toward the fear, and once again...toward the question of consciouness on earth and space.
I urge everyone to ask themselves: Are we really living alone?
Prolonged Loading Sequences (not actual loading). Casual games like Dirt2 should never ever have swivelling cinematics where you cannot interact. Many gamers have lost hundreds of hours to load screens such as the ones found in Harvest Moon for the Playstation 2. It's easy to find a title or two that has a 4-minute start up video or logos at the beginning. Racing games, by rule, should never start with lengthy logos and cars flying through the air-- it's like farting in someone's face and then saying, want to have dinner?
People want casual games to be quick and without the fluff. Team Fortress 2 is a good example of efficient and friendly interfacing. Meanwhile, GTA4 is horribly lengthy from startup to in-game action.
Bad Music. A creative use for music in video games has been to accompany the action - the punches and dramatic moments. Some producers have gotten into a bad habit of putting their favorite tracks into a game. Additionally, orchestrated tracks can't be 2 minute loops-- because that's just ear murder.
Euphemisms For Sex. Heavy Rain and few other titles have been open with jargon for fear of the M for Mature label being smacked on their game cases. But that shouldn't worry them: their core demographic is thirty years old and with a baby, last I checked.
Short Game Length. When I finished Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, I did it in 5 hours. Others did it in half the time, if that's possible. A short game is like a clown coming in to audition for a co-star role in a Brad Pitt movie. NEXT! (By the way, the picture above should give you a hint as to how long a game should feel)
Generic Male Characters. Dark Void may be skirting the Rocketeer stereotypes much too closely. Yeah, we want a hero that's attractive, young and "takes no sh**". But do we want him to be perfect? Hell no. That's precisely why Max Payne will be far more popular for years more, compared to the stark-clean heroines of other forgotten games.
Get with the times. We don't care for The Man of Steel quite as much as we care for The Dark Knight.
Collecting Crap To Win. Games that force you to collect bananas, coins, weapons--well, no that's cool, but-- other crap just to progress the story or get to the next checkpoint, is just asking to be put down. I have no tolerance for games that demean my intelligence with tasks I could be doing in real life - for example, collecting all the quarters I can in my house to pay for my bus fare and to see the nice lady who dresses very provocatively but always hangs out near that thug-infested overpass.
Last one: New releases that cost $59.99. I understand that there's a lot that goes into making a great game for lazy bastards like myself. There's a lot - it takes hundreds of people and years of work. But releasing a new game in 2010 for the price of a game in 1998, is just impossible. If anything, the cost should have gone down. Whatever they're doing, it's screwing the gamer, but in a capitalist kind of way, they're Einsteins.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy your games, you naughty, naughty people.
* A Huge office complex - inspired by scenes from the Matrix, and that copycat of GTA4 by Microsoft's team
* An Airport where you finally lift off the ground and can fly away from the desert continent
* A Forest, as rich and lush with enemies as the gritty and dark spaces of the mines and various factories in the original
* Improved Level-matching system. It works in the original, but there's some problems at times, even the way it is now with higher level players showing up in my game.
* Finally, Graphical improvements for the PC (obviously needed are 8x anti aliasing, and higher res textures)
THE FOLLOWING REQUIRES A DISCLAIMER: This is for academic discussion only. Everything discussed is fiction and does not resemble any real entities, corps. And the Sims is not affiliated with Naughty Games in any way, which is a brand of Maxis inc, etc.
Let's imagine a world, unlike any we've ever imagined before.... Where things like:
* Emails, personal notes, and other "handleables" are transparent and 'sold' to gov as well as private corps (email@example.com goes straight into a .gov mailbox)
In addition to....
- the Banks
- Various firms, including jobs agencies
- maybe your billionaire neighbor
* Win7 Os and Fbook and Mspace are transparent and 'sold' to gov, as well as private corps
* G's Ytube scans videos and indexes HD and models in 3D, using an altered version of Gmaps' tech. Every room in the house that has been photographed has been modeled at this point. If you have a favorite place for your car keys.... this tool is very useful.
These are just concepts...but imagine again, if you will, that there are other dreamers who also have technical degrees, and maths Phd.'s and all they are told to work on is "how to amass all the world information on everyone"...
- What can be useful in having a fully 3D model of a person's face, their house, their friends, their cats? Take a minute to think what you could do if you knew a few of these things. These are just pointers, nothing more.
- Is this information accurate--is it recent--? These are questions people who purchase information usually want to answer. So, G's Ytube and GPhoto pretty much gives the best info out there. It's new--photos get uploaded onto sites often. It's rich--HD videos contain more than a person's product choices: it defines their character, and determines who the most influential parties in their life are, and so so so so much more.
- There are no limits. This is perfectly legal and even promoted in companies like these by their founders, many of whom are kind of like chairmen of the board-people in government. I'm thinking of Mspace and Schmidt who was hooking up with the WH.
Plus, anybody who wants to change the agenda in any way will simply be negated using the information aqcuired thru their use of said tech, the most compromising of which, in my opinion is still email.
More academic discussion
All large companies pay for information packs, not from archives, or "deleted" files, but from new information sets (and if you're the US Gov you don't have to! BONUS!!!). Straight from the inbox - no censor. It's part of the TOS (Ytube for example) , which nobody is really encouraged to read carefully.
Nobody of public fame cares about your privacy. Especially in matters of personal choice: buying decisions, time and location of person(i.e, GPS), commmniqué.
In simpler words, privacy is just uncool.
Just imagine if all those stories you wrote, every picture and video you took of yourself, every email you sent, blog you wrote, every sound you made -- like a fart -- made it into someone elses' liesure viewing screen. That'd be something. I'm sure there's a use for all that noise, they are smart and innovative at google and other information hives.
But I swear for that user, it's like they're playing the sims game with your life, and with everything you know and are.
Bored to Death is an honest and humorous account of an amateur detective who moonlights as a writer in a fictional area of Brooklyn, New York. His friends and their problems is what makes the show a fun and quirky series that ingeniously finds profound meaning, with humor and fortunate casting.
The main focus is upon Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman), who first enters the private detective world when he is inspired to post on Craigslist. When he recieves his first case call, he's quick to learn; dressing in a long coat, getting a tiny notepad, and trying his best to claim the role, using a fictional detective novel as his how-to guide.
The story is pushed along by his desire to become a meaningful influence in the lives of others, probably in a lost attempt to impress a woman. His introduction in the pilot presented him as a white-wine drinking pothead who had just been dumped.
--But this loss is hardly palpable, because the actor portraying Jonathan has a stately and melancoly expression -- during most scenes on the show. It's hard not to laugh when one witnesses the actor's blank stare and the sudden consciousness of his stupidity, when it first surfaces on those big dark eyebrows.
His first cases involve finding missing people, recovering stolen money, a skateboard, and stopping a black mailer. In the latter, he becomes a secondary victim of blackmail, by the woman he was supposed to investigate. She threatens to release the sex tape to his girlfriend, and to have his amazon.com 400,000+ ranked book exposed to a scandal.
Over a length of weeks, he develops a methodology in his new line of work: ways to attract less attention, and how to get fast answers from people. Sometimes, a twenty dollar bill is enough to get one or two names, an adress. At other times, sharing some prime weed is just enough to progress his investigations.
Sometimes he earns a bit of cash. In other instances, he loses all that he earned in the prior case; he learns a hard lesson when the cops catch him in the act of vigilante detective work.
In many of the stories, he smokes pot. His boss and friend, George (Ted Danson), is also a pot enthusiast who often reminisces upon his life's sexual conquests, desires for his magazine and the growing urge to find a new hobby in his boring life. They meet in bars, cafes, at his office or home--often embarking on adventures spontaneously after a short conversation.
Jonathan's friend, Ray (Zach Galifianakis), a comic book artist, also joins him-- as his driver, then his client, and currently as an artist for George's new comic-editorial project hybrid, detailing their detective actions. The trio of actors has noticable chemistry, especially Jonathan and Ray - when wandering the streets, arguing and discussing various problems.
It is a rewarding expirience to see the transformation of Jonathan, as he becomes somewhat proffesional: speaking with a firm authoritative voice to his clients, then strangers -- using lies to progress his research for new clues; discovering other means to information: using a lock pick, exchanging favors, and flirting.
The wisdom of of the series comes from its ability to merge different maturity levels: the sexual humor comes from his comic artist friend who's blunt and hairy like a sewer rat. And his older friend, the editor, who is wealthy yet equally disturbed and occasionally eloquent.
One is obsessed with finding out the location of his "sperm-stealing lesbian mothers", and the magazine editor is interested in scoring weed, drinking wine and yelling at rival editors.
A parallel can be drawn with another HBO series.
Californication is about LA, depicting it with some degree of naughtiness, and sheer phenomenalized vulgarity. Hank Moody (David Duchovny), the writer, put plainly- 'freaking loves sex', and that's his only passion. His career is just another limb. It's only there to feed his relenting escapes into hedonism. He insults, fights, steals --and sleeps with every (without exaggerating) student, teacher, and woman he meets.
Hank's writing is about his selfish life. Family or being resourceful for the good of others is the last thing on his mind.
But Jonathan is another sort of writer. He wants to find love. You could say, he's a gentler breed of man: less promiscous, less successful than Hank Moody, but he's undeniably faithful in a search for usefulness in his city: thus, his persistent desire to solve cases for distraught individuals.
Bored to Death is an also interesting look at urban work life-- trying to prove that it isn't enough to just have a job that pays. But that every life needs something more.
For example, Jonathan doesn't find his passion in writing. He finds it in detective work --a serious hobby that hardly pays...Maybe that's why his new novel is still one sentence long. George finds it in conflicts, not in being an editor. And finally, Ray wants to be valued as a husband... and all he ever talks about is his desire to have a child.
In a sense, Bored to Death makes a simpleton, a proffesional, and a lazy artist all seem like superheroes when they join into an investigative, selfless benefactor for the city -- perhaps inspiring ourselves to take a look at what we value.
Let me tell you how I happened to be thinking about sexy girls...and legs... in video games.
I was watching Transformers 2 and found half-way through, that it was nothing but explosions and shiny metal that moved very quickly.
Naturally, I had to read the reviews on Rottentomatoes. One reviewer said it was "metal junk food". But the end result was good; sales were great at the box office. In fact, phenomenal. Just think what other great movies the studios could make with an additional 400 million dollars from consumers!
Another reviewer said, "mainly a success thanks to Megan Fox's co-starring in it." Then it got me thinking about the famous scene where Megan is perched on a motorcycle, with most of her ass covering the screen. Mind you, it's a great ass. A delicious ass, if I may add. And she's kinda pretty.
But the point is, with upcoming games like Bayonetta -- starring a mom who's got plenty of Megan's key feature -- is their any point to the game itself? According to brain-scan research (New Scientist), the male brain is naturally more connected to sexual thoughts. In fact, a region of the brain that is about two-three times larger than in females. For sex.
So maybe that movie actually wasn't a success but the result of using a well-placed female. One who's physique and portraiture is ubiquitous in magazines, TV, and the internet.
Maybe the key to a really damn successful video game is more of what Bayonetta will offer on its release date: boobs, cleavage, ass, legs, and more ass close ups.
I believe many games, including famous titles like Metal Gear Solid, will die out into loud sound effects, explosions that make no sense whatsover, and a prodigous amount of bouncing assets. Gameplay mechanics will be reduced to cinematic booty-exposure and ass-waving. A kind of Playboy channel in 3d, with some censorship.
Sure, it will be hard (yes you're thinking it) to get into games without being turned on...to focus on storylines...to focus on button-pressing combinations and skill levels...but the game will be a true success, commercially -- in addition, teenage boys will be impressed for a life-time with the images of half-naked beach-going women or vixens with deadly ninja skill--and will forever desire more of the same they had been imprinted with at an Early Gaming age.
Then, over the course of years, the consumer-industry feedback loop will reduce games to Transformers 2 quality. A beautiful woman mascot, and a whole bunch of scrap metal.
An industry leader (a game director, producer, or designer) will do whatever it takes to get your palms sweaty-- so long as the sound they're hearing after a release is ... 'ka-ching', 'ka-ching' 'ka-ching'. Men, especially, have a weak spot for graphical displays of women...and till the end of gaming, that weakness will be exploited to greater and greater lengths.
It's the size of a portable hard drive, but lightweight and wire-free (ex: Sony's new completely wireless LCD TV). It comes in dark blue, red with white sinuos lines, and a sleek OLED display which shows if the console is busy or an update is available (this can be changed to light up when new messages or emails are in your inbox).
The built-in display works even when the console is "disconnected" and off, running on a lithium Ion battery. You can pick the colors (a pair of favorite colors like green neon, and mist blue, etc)
CONTROLS ( SECTION DETAILS ALTERED OCT 18.09 )
The controllers are much like PS3's new motion controls ("Sphere"), plus the standard duo shock. In addition to this, you have the option of using "gestural controls" via the included laser-webcam: built into the main console, plus a detachable wii-sensor-type bubble:
* This is like a black half-sphere (like a micro-sized cctv you'll see in banks), with a suction section on the flat end. Attach it to the ceiling -- uses more advanced LIDAR for scanning. Optional, of course. --dated from Oct. 8th
Recently I was shocked by the awesomeness of quantum computing. RITD, or resonant interband tunneling diode (Physorg), is a new 'device' which will greatly speed up the development of these "computers". They'll allow super-high density information... which you can imagine, can make for some pretty interesting gaming if that capacity is utilised properly.
Ultra low-energy consumption is another advantage of these quantum devices -- researchers at many institutes states-side, and a number of other international firms are developing key points in realizing the dream, faster and faster.
--Albeit, it's still a little early to think "I'm going to get me a quantum gaming machine when I get my next paycheck". Although, it never killed anyone to dream.
THE NEW CONTROL FEATURE
Recently added to my dream entertainment system is: the pure interface - a mesh of holo-projection (while taking the best of our favorite new brainchildren: OLEDS, 3D television screens without glasses, and -- not yet developed: super-spatial dimensional touching points -- think of the multi-touch on the Iphone but without the phone) and "human body sensing", which is an integration of advance enviroment algorithms and body language reading based on meaning (Stanford, research).
* Developers will chose various points on the body that the user will have marked for key control features (NATAL-similiarities here). Before the user interacts, the system has sized up the interactions that will take place, marking the user with said pre-controls.
* As in the 10/GUI (Engadget) only with differing theme with much more color, and dynamic responsiveness to the surroundings.
For example, smaller rooms will recieve an uplifting white aurora of color -- bigger rooms will recieve bright warmer tones to accent or harmonize the space/or with furniture, even people's dresses and jeans. Every movement is learned as it will later be used to create "replays" in the space used by the player.
* A Rock-Band type of interaction is what this implies, as well as Dance Dance Revolution - fluid motions created in past interactions are stored and added to the growing build of the system.
* A player who is very aggressive, will often see their behaviour partially "mirrored", with slight variation in future interaction. But a person who is consistent in games will often be visited with characters or locations in "game settings" that have changed only in nuance, or even superfluos details which the system will recognize and attempt to aesthetically implement in the next build.
(This section needs to be developed and weeded)
SOFTWARE AND MENU
The system starts up onto custom 3d menus. You can name your console anything you like. You can browse the internet using voice to enter urls, and great eye tracking to find what you like, in addition to using the controller to scroll or cancel the eye-browsing.
* Includes a Google Wave-type section that allows your friends and other gamers to join in large live image-board-type chats, video, audio chats. Users who do not have a keyboard on hand will use the built in mic to type. The audio is translated accurately and immediately into text-bubbles and can be "played back" out loud, if the users desire this. If not, it removes the need to type.
DOWNLOADS AND GAMES
It has something similiar to Xbox live or Sony's store where you can purchase all the games you'd ever want to play, in addition to allowing you to play PC games that you have on DVD, Bluray or on an external HD (it has three USB connections).
* Reads Bluray and DVDs and is backwards compatible with both Sony, and Microsoft games. (That's why it's a dream console)
* A TV-save feature, based on the TIVO design...saves ads so that advertisers can't complain. Includes the needy fast-forward feature.
* Allows users to post their own videos using a favorite service like Youtube, or the built-in service which is a basic and clear design without ads and simply functional: video sharing, private and public.
Wifi (n) built in. 10TB hard drive. Keyboard's are all recognized by its virtualized operating system (Linux or Windows, or even Apple's stuff) software. This will open the way for a console that can download virtually every kind of file format on the internet, including torrents.
COMMENTARY (DEVELOPMENT DIARY):
It's important to have some features, and not others. In my opinion as of October 2009, I believe it's critical to have a voice-to-text translation (i.e. removing the clutter that a keyboard brings into gaming) that works live in online-based gaming, or plain interaction using the console's system.
* Hard drive space is a must because video content will explode in the coming 5 years.
* Less clutter means the user has the ability to "organize simply": from the menus, to community gaming events, and online interaction. Options to remove, reduce, slim, sum-up are key here.
I am probably the last person to notice that the trend in the United States is militaristic-realistic shooters. Games that promote strength before compassion. Games that kill rather than grow.
If there was a stunning new way to see games, I'm sad to say it would not be coming from the same minds that bore World of Warcraft -- a kind of super-massive battlefield simulation with spells and axes and orcs. Or a game like Metal Gear Solid - which is obsessed with the Cold War, special ops, and is awash with hyper-realism - or a game like Half-Life 2, Grand Theft Auto 4, Dante's Inferno, and Assassin's Creed... this is not a question of right or perverse.
Which brings me to an important question. What does this say about their personality -- the executives who run the teams?
- What happens when one man pours his heart into a design message and the development team?
- Do his flaws in thinking then perpetuate into the masses of gamers in the world after the game has been installed and played?
Now, let's talk about Nazis.
Wolfenstein (2009) draws us back to when Nazis were demons to be chased with flamethrowers. Crysis shows evil Koreans fighting to control an alien weapon of sorts -- in the future. All require big guns, no interaction whatsover with human beings that normally feel, talk and are usually pretty cooperative. Highly polished games, delivered and easily accessible to most young adults.
The uncensored killing so perfectly re-invented in video games presents me with the image of a man that cannot question his parent company. He never stops once to question the consequence of making another one with the same goddamn message.
If you're not thinking hard, I urge you to stop for a minute.
Think about what effect Microsoft's Age of Empires series has had on the world.
How does taking the lessons of the past and making them more real, re-inventing them a thousand times ever going to produce the kinds of personalities that will benefit an economy as fragile as ours -- one of poor grade scores for high school students and high drop out rates?
How is this going to create more scientists? More mathematicians, architects and consultants to solve the housing problems of the near future? -- There are vast fields of gaming that are untapped. I draw the comparison to oil fields because I believe there are trillions of dollars worth of savings here.
Yet, the funding is missing. The teams are out there working for another war game for their kids. Which is alarming.
There are many fresh and exciting new adventures in the virtual worlds -- many have yet to be imagined. But war games... such as the ones available to you and I in 2009 ... do not belong to the new age at all -- where a little less virtual warring could be substituted for a healthier alternative.
Finally, like my friend told me after our three hour discussion:
"One must understand the consequences of a single little game... and the person it will build."