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Author: Endymion Send Me Email
System: 1.26 - 1.5 GHz Dual G4     Location: Miami Shores FL, USA
Yahoo: aleksael

Hyperion Chronicle

Snickers Commercials

I wish the rating list here went to eleven, because TWBA/Chiat/Day advertising agency, the folks responsible for the Snickers ad campaign (scroll to the bottom of the page) deserve an award of the highest degree. I'm driving my girlfriend nuts humming, singing, and generally laughing my butt off to that commercial campaign today.

Posted on July 10, 2006 at 7:18 am
Late resolutions

Yeesh does the time go.

Anybody have any new years' resolutions? I didn't make any. Well, I did have one but it's a bit of a carryover from last year, still a work in progress. So I guess I'm not counting that here, feel free to ask if interested though.

So I didn't ruminate over this on the first, I just spent the evening with Kel running up a cellphone bill (Autsch!) and was content. A few weeks ago though I kinda thought I should get off my duff and do something. Work out more? Well I had been planning that all along as well and it's a pretty common impetus for most blokes, so I thought why not do something else along with to make it more interested.

Possibly inspired by "30 Days," I decided to lay off junk food, completely. This is a tough one for me, living alone in the middle of town and being the buck-stopper at a family business. So it took a bit of formulation. I can't say that I've laid off all "fast food," you'll still spot me at subway of course, but I've laid off the mayonnaise and cheese with the sandwiches or any other dish, and I'm opting for water or lemonade rather than sodas. That last one was a doozy, as anybody who knows me more than five minutes has probably heard about Bawls, and I have to admit it was part of the reason that it took me a while to get into the swing of this. Even after being resolute about it a week and a half ago, I wound up going to a Wendy's all because the last time I had a burger, I didn't know it was going to be my "last" burger for a while. At least it was a good one.

So I've now been without fried red meat, sugared syrup and vein-blocking cholesterol for a week and a half. I did a half-assed two mile jog on the treadmill over the weekend but not scheduled myself for a real routine yet, the whyfors of that later*. But do I notice a difference?

Hell frigging yes! It turned real cold here in Miami right around the same time that I started this, so I'm hesitant to say which is related but if I were to put my finger on it, I'd say it was the healthier diet more than the cold weather: I am singing, right now, as well or better than I could ten years ago.

It took a few "birthing pains," in the form of massive lugies that I've hocked up a few afternoons in a row, the first of which was, horrors, bloody and runny. The following day I appeared to be healing well but the mucous was vast, with a dark blood patch in the centre that was obviously ready to come out and have a fork in it. I've coughed up a couple here and there since then, drinking massive fluids just in case it's more sickness than the dietary change, but unlike much of the time I've been sick with upper respiratory infections before, my voice is far, far clearer, I can hit all of the notes, vibrato properly, and I'll be damned if my baritone is not wider.

I could already sing better than any man, it's pretty awesome to see (hear!) yourself hitting more personal bests, or outdoing them. This is going to come in useful soon methinks.

*Earlier this evening Joy told me I looked like I was standing taller today--I sure hope so, the town house closing is tomorrow at 2PM. I need fourteen thousand dollars!

Posted on February 15, 2006 at 12:13 am
Project Epsilon

If you're reading this now from the blog list then it's possible that the title of this entry has done its job: you read it and opened this up. Sorry, Project Epsilon isn't some new game for you to play, no no. You see Epsilon is my Macintosh and it has been given a new body.

Epsilon, Macintosh. A Mac barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic G4. Epsilon will be that Macintosh. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.

The Six Million Dollar Macintosh.

Okay okay so I only spent $40 on the CPU, but what do you think of the handiwork?

Posted on October 19, 2005 at 1:59 am
Re: Timesplitters (was: Second chances)

I got Timesplitters for the PS2 years ago and never played it. I was too busy getting through my Dreamcast catalogue at the time so I just picked it up and it sat there. When the XBox came around I got Timesplitters 2, and played it, and was promptly frustrated. In my post-Halo world I couldn't get used to the movable targetting reticle, which was only supposed to move in a certain mode, but always moved just enough in the "fixed" mode to get me frustrated. I knew about the Goldeneye heritage, everybody had talked up Free Radical, it actually didn't look terrible but hey, like I said, I was dealing with it in a post-Halo world. My bar had moved.

I've been pulling out a lot of older games lately, some I've seen a lot of, others hardly a thing, and the odd one here and there that I hadn't even taken out of the plastic. Cable TV is out from the hurricane, what have we here, Timesplitters? What the hell.

At home alone in the wake of a storm I thought I would be done with this thing in two minutes. Even the blokes who told me they loved this game said "do it for the multiplayer." Well that was out, no friends around and it's PS2 to boot, double jeopardy. And the dithered graphics that met me at the title screen were mirrored with the poor alpha blending that was to follow, across every texture and lightmap I saw that evening. I tell myself now that it was the music that pulled me in. It had to be. I mean, the bastard was so tough I had to drop to easy mode on every stage to play through entirely. I love hard games, but I've always been harsh on the unfair ones, and about halfway through, this one seemed very nearly unfair on easy! By the time I had trodden to the final stage I didn't care about the fact that I couldn't jump anymore, just navigating through the areas was reward enough to me. Laying my life in the hands of autoaiming was second nature--and really, anybody who thinks autoaim makes a game easy needs to play Timesplitters, good god. And did I mention I loved the music?

Who are the Timesplitters? Who knows? Who cares?! They just manage to try to wreck your day once you've picked up your happy meal at the spaceport and keep you from the flight, maybe they don't have fast food on their planet, where was I? Well gee, somehow in three days that was over too fast, so I'm on to Timesplitters 2, and still frustrated for a lot of the same reasons, but playing a lot better now that I'm firmly within Free Radical's state of mind, having at least as much fun as the single-play of the last game provided for me. I've never seen a game so stubbornly change my opinion before and I don't mind, I've got to collect the rest of the time crystals because I don't want to take another five years to play Future Perfect. My biggest regret is that I may not be able to con anybody into playing Timesplitters 1 & 2 with me as they're older and lacking network/XBox Live. Did I mention I love the music?

Ever given a second chance to something that turned your nose sour? Anybody want to do the Timesplitters thing?

Posted on August 29, 2005 at 10:04 am
Quelling the creative mind, or, how I love the new Star Wars cuts.

A long time ago in a state a thousand miles away, a summer film changed the way I spent my afternoons, and taught me how to avoid homework creatively. Nevermind the kooky neighbour kid who just wanted to stick a firecracker up Chewbacca's ass. If it weren't for Star Wars (and Marvel Comics... and Transformers... and Conan the Barbarian, oh you get the idea) I wouldn't have the artsy-fartsy liberal arts degree I have today.

When I learned all about the Star Wars Trilogy DVD Set, I did not pre-order--I went straight to ebay to buy a pre-Special Edition DVD set after reading about all the new changes. These were not insignificant changes, the new DVD set has alterations that were not even existant in the previous releases. For George's vision we now have a third revision of each film.

When the trilogy was rereleased to cinema in 1997 I went to see A New Hope, and The Empire Strikes Back with a friend. I skipped out on Return Of The Jedi for no real reason (probably lack of company), but I didn't mourn it because I really preferred the second film over the rest. I went to see The Phantom Menace at its debut date (not one of the overnight "debut screenings") and was hard-pressed to say I was underwhelmed. It wasn't that I hated it, it wasn't even that I didn't like it. The visuals were very pretty but the story was very similar to what had come before, which I had to remind myself, was that which came... later. It seemed as if it were spackle for an old crack in the wall. One of the very first lines of the film came with Darth Maul speaking to a man we recognise as Emperor Palpatine, "finally we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi, at last we shall have our revenge." This was the one thing that I really didn't like about Episode I--the beginning really wasn't a beginning. The only actually good thing about it was that it got me to pondering the sheer vastness of the universe that George wanted to work with. However, considering that Episodes IV through VI were already "long ago," I had really wanted to be treated to an absolute origin of sorts. I passed on The Clone Wars when it was in the cinema a couple of years ago and that's recent enough that I can recall that, yes, I skipped it precisely because I had lack of company.

I didn't get around to seeing The Clone Wars until this January, and I was sorry I had waited so long when I did. I thought it was superb. I never liked Hayden Christensen when I first caught sight of him, first of all there was some definite jealousy at work. (I was available! All George had to do was call!) I just didn't think he was the face of the Force. How my opinion changed once I saw the film. The action was much better than The Phantom Menace (or even Return Of The Jedi) and while I had always imagined the unfolding of some histories that took place differently (like the creation of the clones, Jango and Boba, etc.) it was still great to actually see at long last. It was no Empire, but Hayden and Ewan were up to the task a lot better than I had ever expected, and I really regretted not getting the chance to see it on the screen.

So now that the new DVD set is upon us the moaning starts all over again? Not hardly. I got the pre-existing DVD set to have the older versionn as I remembered it, but then you've got to realise something--I have multiple copies of every game I love, including rereleases, collected versions, and on different systems. I appreciate and love the original films the original way for what they were, and they accomplished a lot for what they did. Nothing else in 1977, or 1980, or 1983 can compare. But in 2004 a lot compares, and it compares a great deal better to 1977, and 1980, and 1983.

I haven't watched the new DVD set yet but when I look at the originals now, that is precisely what I think of them. They're clever. They're very resourceful. And they were the ceiling of possibilities at a time my expectations were a great deal lower. When my expectations were lower, reality was lower still. Some of the original scenes have elements that anyone can pick out, and point, and laugh at. We didn't do that then because as imperfect as Star Wars was, it really was the best thing possible with what it was given. Now it's all about making Star Wars the best thing possible for its complete potential. I can understand and sympathise with purists who like the old way, and until earlier this year I really do think I was one of them. (Or one of you, depending on where you stand as you read this.) But it isn't just about special effects when the scenes you love are doctored. It's all about tailoring the vision to match someone's thoughts, and like it or not they aren't your thoughts.

I've been guilty myself of changing works, revising them after I've shared them. Supposedly that's in bad form for a writer, unless you're asking for a workshopped opinion; with my artsy-fartsy creative writing degree I've learned to sculpt a lot better on my own before putting things before readers but I would literally kill to have the kind of artistic freedom the George Lucas has with his story now. Today I read this interview that just solidified to me how much in the right he is. When asked why he didn't give consumers the option of having either or both the original cinema cut or the newly restored and added footage, George says "I'm not going to spend the, we're talking millions of dollars here, the money and the time to refurbish that, because to me, it doesn't really exist anymore. It's like this is the movie I wanted it to be, and I'm sorry you saw half a completed film and fell in love with it. But I want it to be the way I want it to be. I'm the one who has to take responsibility for it. I'm the one who has to have everybody throw rocks at me all the time, so at least if they're going to throw rocks at me, they're going to throw rocks at me for something I love rather than something I think is not very good, or at least something I think is not finished."

And he's right. I remember 1980. I remember reading the Starlog magazine interviews, the film movie books and seeing the television interviews and all sorts of fanfare, behind the scenes specials and everything in the heyday. There were two things that George said in almost every instance, "this isn't the end, you're only seeing a very small part of a very large story here, and I may not even live long enough to tell it properly" was first. And second, he also said "we've done a lot of incredible work and advanced filmmaking by generations with the techniques that we've learned and incorporated by making this movie... but I'm still not satisfied enough with the results."

The first bit, about telling a larger story, the fans were the most bitter about. I remember a conversation with a good friend who loved Star Wars (Episode IV), when she told me that her whole love affair with it ended when Darth Vader told Luke he was his father, and that she thought George was nothing but a charlatan after he revealed that Luke and Leia were siblings. And you thought it all started with his trying to complete the series with Episode I? No no. Here was a beloved fan who turned her back the moment that her favourite icon wasn't romantically involved with the character of her choice due to incest. Personally I couldn't believe that she hated The Empire Strikes Back, but there you have it. What do the kids think these days? Can they believe there's an old fogie out there who hates The Clone Wars? Or that someone actually prefers the cinematic trickery that creates so many of the 20 year old special effects in the original editions?

I don't know, but one thing is clear to me now, and that is that George wasn't lying when he said what he did, and that is why we're seeing what we are now. You can hate him for ruining a childhood memory if you want. I love the man for his creativity, his direction, his freedom, and most of all his conviction. It's his Star Wars. He really did let you taste it 20 years before he could bake the recipe.

Posted on September 28, 2004 at 8:18 am
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TimeSplitters 2 (Multi)
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence
TimeSplitters: Future Perfect (Multi)
Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
Katamari Damacy (PS2)
Snickers Commercials 7/10/2006
Gradius V 9/24/2004
Halo: Combat Evolved 6/1/2004
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