Where’s patrick?

Yeah, yeah, the theme is busted. I upgraded to WordPress 2.6 and, apparently, that was a violation of his parole or something. Patrick will be back, I promise.

Insomniac Movie Review: The Signal

Most people take sleep for granted. You get tired, you go to sleep. No problem. I’ve never been able to do that. Maybe I was out the day they went over it in kindergarten. Maybe I did something to anger the Sandman (Bastard, I bought your comics!).

Bad chemistry? Bad stress? Bad karma? Who knows. Anyway this isn’t a sob story. The point is that I spend a fair amount of time awake at strange hours, too tired to think. So I watch movies.

Now, let me say up front that the things that make a movie great at 4am are very different from the things that make a movie great at 9pm. The later it gets, the more I’m willing to forgive plot holes, leaps in logic, or acting quality. I want novelty. I want a new approach on an old story, a clever dramatic structure, or something completely out of left field.

Last night’s The Signal was just that kind of movie. It got some decent reviews, so I gave it a shot.

The story goes something like this: A mysterious signal suddenly appears on every TV and radio, causing about half of the people who hear it to start calmly killing everyone around them. We follow a woman and her lover as, in separate stories, they each try to escape her husband and get to the train station so that they can Amtrak together to happiness. Unicorns and shiny, shiny rainbows for everyone!

This was a strange movie. Really strange.

Structure. Subject. Performances. Strange.

At 4am, it was awesome.

The story is told in three distinct acts. The beginning and end are the same sort of action/horror movie with desperate escapes and murder-fu. Scary, dark corners. Characters are beaten up, shot, and beaten up some more. Then everybody hallucinates for a while.

Right in the middle, though, it turns into a different movie for about half an hour. Same story, same people, picking up right where part one left off, only now it’s a “satire”. They play the situation for “laughs”. Except that sometimes characters seem randomly to realize what’s going on and get upset about having committed murder or being surrounded by corpses … but then it’s right back to the zany. Isn’t it funny how they don’t care that they’re killing each other? And then one character casually blinds another so we get to see her stumbling around, trying to find her husband whom she’s forgotten that she had murdered earlier. Ha ha!

Then it’s right back to the straight horror film for the final third. Must. Find. Girl. Hallucinate for a while. Amtrak. Ambiguous, unhappy ending.

So it’s horror, then satire of that horror, then back to horror again. Huh? The satire in the middle kind of undercuts the horror that comes after it.

And no, they never tell you what the signal was or why or who did it. There’s some nutty rambling by one character, but I don’t know if it was meant to be taken seriously. Another keeps yelling, “THE SIGNAL IS A LIE”, but he might have just thought he was watching Fox news.

If you’re awake at 4am, tired, have low expectations, and don’t mind dumb sci-fi/horror movies, then this one is different enough to keep your attention. Which makes it great.

Awake or before midnight, you probably won’t make it to the half way point.

Hm. I probably need some sort of rating system here. I give it four fluffy pillows, or.. uhh This is a two Ambien Screamer… no, maybe… This Movie Gets Good At: 3am. Yeah, I like that. My rating represents the time of day when the cleverness of the premise outweighs the awfulness of the production.

The Signal starts to look good at around 3am. Steve says check it out.

Got any recommendations? I can’t sleep. What should I be watching?

It’s A Very Merry Bus Full

You already knew that the song, “Tunak Tunak Tun” is so climate changingly great that one listen cures bad breath, gives you a better haircut, and heals a sick kitten… but did you know why?

Me, either.

One thousand thanks, then, to the mighty Buffalax who has translated Daler Mehndi‘s magical incantations from his native Punjabi into English for we lesser mortals.

I think he speaks for us all when he sings,

All around, got Miss Mary very hostile
and your fiddler’s very rusty
it’s a very merry bus full

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fSpI4oZoDc&hl=en]

If you have not seen this before, make sure that you DO NOT MISS the Amazing Dance of Awesomeness that begins at about 1:50. If you are not happy after watching this video, I will refund double your money.

Bless you, Daler Mehndi, and bless you Buffalax.

How Galactica Will End

I think that I’ve figured out how Battlestar Galactica will end.

This is all wild speculation, of course, but I think that it not only fits but would be amazing television.

I know that some of you don’t like to think about this stuff and don’t want to potentially ruin the surprise, so it’s behind a “more” link. Click below to bask in my cleverness.

Continue reading “How Galactica Will End”

Empire Interactive, Please Release The Ghost Master Level Creation Tools

Image of a ghost from the Ghost Master fan kit

Sorry for the boring post title, but I’m hoping to be SEO friendly. I’m starting a movement, baby!

Ghost Master is probably my favorite game ever made. It’s a sort of RTS where you control a bunch of ghosts and your job is to scare the mortals out of a building. It has a fun premise, good graphics (ok, a bit dated now), a great soundtrack, and never got the credit or sales that it deserved.

It came out maybe five years ago, and I’ve played it through at least once a year since. The kids love to watch over my shoulder as the ghosts chase people around. Anyway, Ben and I were playing it a couple of nights ago and he asked why there weren’t any more levels. I explained about how expensive video games are to make, and how great it was that some games let people add their own new levels and …

Why not?

So I called Empire Interactive and asked.

I had a pleasant chat with the VP of Sales, who seemed genuinely thrilled that we like one of their games so much. They still own the IP for the game, but there aren’t any plans to release more content or a sequel. He said that he didn’t know whether they would be able to release any tools or specs, but he’ll check.

So, you know, Team Fortress, crowdsource, cheap 3D tools, modder communities, and uhhh… long tail.

I am asking as politely as possible. Empire Interactive, please release the Ghost Master level creation tools.

UPDATE: No dice on the source code. Maybe the’ll release just the file formats so I can build my own tools.

Today’s Douche of the Day Award Goes To…

Continuing today’s “I love people” theme, say hello to Tomas Delgado. Mr. Delgado was speeding, back in 2004, when he struck and killed a 17 year old boy.

Iriondo Trinidad’s father told CNN he heard the screeching of the car from the campgrounds. The teen was struck from behind and dragged 106 meters (347 feet) along the rural highway, the father said.

A traffic report said Delgado was traveling 113 km per hour (70 mph) in an area where the speed limit is 90 km (55 mph). An independent expert hired by Trinidad’s family said Delgado was going 173 km per hour (107 mph).

[full story]

Clearly a tragedy for everyone involved. You see, it seems that the act of striking and killing the boy had also caused some damage to Mr. Delgado’s car. So de did what anyone would do.

He sued the family of the boy he’d killed. To pay for repairs to his car.

He has since been convinced to drop the suit, but his place in history is secure. Congratulations, Mr. Delgado, you are the Puzzling Evidence Douche of the Day. You’ve earned it.

I Love People

I repeat that, over and over again, to remind myself. Because sometimes I forget.

This morning, for instance.

Kimberly-Clark has been running a contest where you buy lots of their stuff and maybe win some home improvements. Fine, but somebody signed up using an email address in a domain I control. Since it’s not a valid address, the emails all bounce to me. Great, somebody doesn’t want to get spammed so they make it my problem. Grrrrr. I looked around for an “unsubscribe me” link, but there was none to be found.

What’s this? One of the emails has a login ID and password. That’s… curious.

The domain looked legit, so I logged in (just to unsubscribe from the emails). Check the profile to see if it’s just some spammer. Uh-oh, it’s real. Personal info. Phone number, home address, everything. Drat.

It seems that an older gentleman, let’s call him Phil*, had created an account but used my email domain. I figured that I owed it to the guy to let him know that he should change his email (and now his password), so I called.

I was exceptionally polite, introduced myself, referred to him as “Mr.”, told him that he’d put down the wrong email address, and requested that he change it.

Of course he was polite to me in return and thanked me for bringing the mistake to his… *sigh* No.

He did not like this phone call. He did not like me. It was his email address. He repeated the name. The address was his name, he explained, and could not be mine. I have a different name, so why would his name be my address? And who am I again?

Yes, sir, but the domain is….

He was having none of it.

This went on for a while. Then a bit longer. I am very proud of myself for remaining polite and respectful for the entire time.

Eventually, of course, he won.

He has no intention to change his email address. When he tells his version of this story, I’m probably some scam artist who tried to scam him into some scam. He’s about my dad’s age (mid-60s), so I really don’t have the heart to do anything about it. I will create a filter rule to send the emails to trash, and that’s the end of it.

Why? Because I. LOVE. PEOPLE.

[*] This is convenient, because his name is also “Phil”. I find that this approach keeps things simple.

The game sensation that’s sweeping the nation

If you were an unsigned, indy band, who would you be?

Turns out, this is me. I’m as surprised as you are. I thought that, at the very least, I’d be a man. Oh well, you learn something new every day.

What the heck is this all about? I’m glad you asked. A hot girl explains the details.

What’s that? You want more? You DEMAND more? Normally I wouldn’t do this, but ok. Click on over here and Andi will share some of her sweet, sweet, candies.