I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dueling Carls

If you're expecting a description of a sexual act, you will be unhappy. Dueling Carls is entirely child friendly.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Vortex Cannon

A couple of weekends ago Amy and I enlisted the help of a few of her friends to pick up a gigantic dresser from Amy's parents' house, only to create an accidental meeting of the minds. Conversations moved fluidly from one topic to another, experiments with the creation of gun powder and thermite, burning out dead stumps and creating massive canons with high arcing flames, the sorts of things you might hear of on a televised science program.

The discussion eventually lead to something that Cliff had discovered on the internets, something called a vortex cannon which created a powerful blast - strong enough to knock stacked polystyrene cups over at a distance of thirty feet - simply using air compression in an empty cardboard box. Surely this science experiment will soon be on the docket for this intelligent group of twenty-somethings.

Perhaps we will even weaponize it in time to use it against the oncoming zombie apocalypse. Only time will tell.

I give you the vortex cannon:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chameleon Was Frightened By iPhone

A couple of weeks ago, Amy and I went to a get together on my side of the family. If you had seen us there, surrounded by enraptured children, you'd think we were storytellers reading off lines from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - which I found the other day at Good Will on cassette as read by Patrick Stewart - when in fact we were watching funny YouTube videos on our iPhones.

My cousin Ethan tried to carry on the tradition of showing funny videos this Easter by pulling up a video of a cat who drinks out of the toilet, uses the toilet for a bowel movement, and finally falls into the toilet while trying to escape. The bad news is that the cat was not trained to flush the toilet; the good news is that the cat was apparently trained to drink out of the toilet before taking a dump instead of after.

I digress. The following is one of the videos from the original family fun fest. I believe the title explains everything.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

LOST Easter Eggs in Arkham City

I think the concept of "Easter eggs" first started getting popular once videos changed over from VHS tapes to DVD discs. That is the first time I remember hearing this term. And what better topic to discuss the day after Easter than the phenomenon known as Easter eggs. If you're not familiar with the term, it simply means pictures or sounds hidden within something else.

I finished the main story of Batman: Arkham City about a week ago, but decided to keep playing until I defeated the Riddler. To do so, you must hunt down four hundred Easter eggs: Riddler trophies and riddles hidden throughout the game. I finally completed that Easter morning and then moved on to killing zombies (which also seems very Easter appropriate).

I was never the type to hunt for Easter eggs until the 2004 ABC television program LOST first aired. I got sucked into all the Hurley's in the background of Jin's flashback stuff, trying so hard to find the hidden messages in the show. I recently came to find out that Paul Dini, an early story editor for LOST was responsible for writing Arkham City.

I discovered my first reference to LOST fairly early on in the game. You see, Batman can detect the chatter of bored henchmen as he flies around the rooftops, and one such bored henchman states, "Did they ever explain what the island was?" But the really big LOST reference takes place in one of the Joker's video monologues:

It was nice to see an homage to a television program that took up so many hours of my time in a video game that has taken up so many hours of my time. I wasn't sentimental enough to cry - no, I used up all of those tears watching the last few minutes of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on Good Friday, but it was a good moment for me no less.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Arkham City Inspired Short Action Film

One of the things that inspired gamers while playing Batman: Arkham City was the fantastic fight choreography in the game. Playing as Batman or Catwoman - or as other characters assuming you've acquired the DLC - one can develop long chains involving interesting punches, kicks, and other options.

I recently stumbled across a short action film by design team Thousand Pounds Action Company in which a lone female martial artist adapts the unique fighting style from Batman: Arkham City. If you've played the game, you'll notice that the comparison is incredible. Even if you haven't, the video is stunning.

But you don't have to take my word for it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

250 Bears Rolling off a Mountain to Psychedelic Music

Yes, this is yet another video from the recent hit video game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. No, I have not yet played the game extensively.

There is something strangely beautiful to this video. And you might even notice a moment that reminds you of the scene in Titanic where the guy falls off the ship and hits the propeller.

No actual bears were harmed in the creation of this video. And so far as I know, none of them were singing autotune bears.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Skyrim's Singing Autotune Bear Mod

I have played Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a total of one time, and for less than ten minutes. My friend Matt was having trouble taking down a dragon, and before he decided to rage quit, I decided to give it a try. "I got this," I explained. After three or four terrible attempts to shoot a dragon out of the sky with a bow and arrow, I finally decided it wasn't fated to be.

That's not to say I don't want to try playing Skyrim again. After my last post, it should be clear that all of the critics are applauding the game, which makes it worth adding to the gaming queue.

I think I might be even more inclined to play now that I can fight and kill singing autotuned bears. This one gave me and the friends quite a kick as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Skyrim's Macho Dragon Mod

In a year where a couple of the most awaited video games of all time came out - I'm thinking specifically about Portal 2 and Batman: Arkham City - the name that was on top of nearly everyone's 2011 game of the year list was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

And that was before an official update was released that allows gamers to create their own mods for the game. Rather than being directed toward some seedy web site that is certain to infect your computer, gamers searching for "Skyrim mods" on Google are now directed to PC Gamer's article "The 25 Best Skyrim Mods." The world of gaming has changed, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

Below is a video of the Macho Dragon Mod, an edit designed to change in-game dragons - real-life and television dragons will be unaffected - into in-game dragons that kind of resemble The Macho Man Randy Savage. I don't know how someone thinks to change a dragon into a former WWF Wrestler, but I'm happy that someone did. The following video provided myself and a room full of people with a lot of laughs.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Amazing Spider-man: A Good Reboot?

I know that most people are just tired of reboots, but I think there is reason to believe that the forthcoming The Amazing Spider-man film can be good. The casting is fantastic. The look and feel, as displayed in the first and second trailer is spot on, and they have the courage to delve both into the tragic story of the Stacy family and the secret story behind Peter Parker's parents.

Some reboots are made solely for money. I have a feeling that this is one of the few that also employs a decent amount of art and soul.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Trailers

This film is adapted from the book Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. You may know Grahame-Smith from his earlier success with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which not only kicked off an entire genre of classic literature mixed with science fiction and horror monsters, but which is also currently being optioned off for a film adaptation.

This looks to be the most intriguing film since 2001's Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

One Month Until The Avengers

At midnight last night I noted that it was the first or April. Since April Fool's Day is considered a "holiday" by some, I decided to work on the "Storyteller" achievement in Batman: Arkham City which involves having "12 murderous dates with Calendar Man." Much like the Jeph Loeb Batman story arc titled "The Long Halloween," which if you haven't read you absolutely must, this simply involves meeting with the murderous Calendar Man in his cell in the Solomon Wayne Courthouse on every major holiday.

When I woke up this morning, however, and it was still the first of April another comic book realization appeared to me: Marvel's The Avengers comes out in one month, on Friday, May 4, 2012. It is finally here. And this is surprising because nearly every Joss Whedon project since the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel years has either been shot down before production (Ripper, Suspension, Afterlife, Wonder Woman), prematurely cancelled (Firefly, Dollhouse), or delayed for way too long (Cabin in the Woods). While I'll believe that Whedon's The Avengers exists only when I see the credits rolling (and then wait for way too long to see what's after the credits), it does actually seem like this movie is going to happen.

I ought to also mention that a lot has happened since I last posted on The Avengers. There have been two really fantastic trailers, one that aired during the Super Bowl and another that aired more recently, that blew the original trailer so far out of the water that Namor the Submariner could not reach it even with his most powerful foot-wing assisted dolphin jump.

Some people have suggested that the creatures that appear at about the thirty second mark in this trailer are Skrulls. I seriously doubt that this is true. Loki would be more likely to summon creatures from the nine realms to his side, which means that these are much more likely to be orcs or dark elves. Furthermore, I think that the line at the end of the trailer (Loki: "I have an army." Tony: "We have a Hulk.") may be the coolest line in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Finally, it is worth noting that this is the first Marvel film to use motion capture for The Hulk. I believe that my friend Elliot said it best: "That's all Ruffalo."

The creature at end of the trailer was referred to by my friend Elliot as "leviathan" and by my friend Chad as some sort of monstrous metal ship, but I felt that it was more likely that this beast was Jormungand, also known as the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. You know, the one that is foretold to kill Thor when Ragnarok comes.

That's all I have about the upcoming The Avengers movie. I know it's not as exciting as much of the false news spreading today on the web, and it's certainly not as exciting as the rumors last April Fool's Day that Justin Bieber was going to be in Expendables 2 (I WANT TO BELIEVE), but the thing about these trailers for The Avengers that I think is the most pleasing is that they are real and, no matter how many raptures are forecast between now and then, The Avengers is certainly going to come out on May 4 of this year.