The Malgrave Incident: A Video Game for People Who Don’t Play Video Games: THE FRONT PAGE ONLINE

A first - reviewing a video game. While I'm not overly crazy with how this turned out, I expect my review of Alice: Madness Returns will be much more interesting even if you don't play video games.

Building on their expertise with casual games delivered through the internet, Big Fish Games’ first foray into development for the Nintendo Wii console is a successful example of video games not named Angry Birds attracting an audience beyond a niche demographic. Of course, to the hardcore button-mashing pixel slayer, a hidden object puzzler like Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident might be as appealing as a bowl of oatmeal cooling on the kitchen counter; that’s certainly the sour view over at IGN Games. But for the rest of us casual gamers – or anyone looking for respite from pounding game controllers and thick instruction manuals – the leisurely gameplay offers the right balance of challenge, reward, and accessibility.


quick review - The Quiet Earth

This unassuming New Zealand gem from 1985, vaguely based on a book by Craig Harrison you’re not likely to find, fits neatly into the post-apocalyptic genre without being a shameless progenitor or carrier of infectious genre clichés. A scientist wakes up in bed after a suicide attempt and finds himself alone on a planet in which all human and animal life has disappeared. Has he died? Has everyone else died? And how does the suddenly silenced Earth relate to a government project called Operation Flashlight? As played by Bruno Lawrence and steadily directed by Geoff Murphy, we get a credible and poignant study of a man struggling to fend off mental deterioration while understanding his situation. Complications arise when he comes across two other survivors of “The Effect,” a young woman and a Maori man. Before you can ring the triangle, the drama tenses and the alienating eeriness of the film’s lifeless earth sharpens. And so: no zombies, no monsters, no mutants, no crazy cults or rogue militias. Just three people at the end of world. Best of all, The Quiet Earth can easily boast one of the best what-the-fuck!? endings in film, one that doesn’t leave us feeling violated. Why? Because the film’s protagonist is just as taken aback as we are. Our bafflement is part of the film, and while there’s little information on which to pin anything more than the flimsiest of interpretations, the strange ending feels more like a challenge rather than a cheat. It’s worth noting that the film’s plot differs considerably from the book, as Wikipedia will tell you. I prefer the film.


news from around the world: october 21, 2011

I assume you don't need links to articles announcing Gadhafi's death or President Obama's announcement that US troops will be pulling out of Iraq by the end of year. So, onwards with this week's hodgepodge...


Without Dennis Ritchie, there would be no Jobs

And so it should.

David Brooks is one of my favourite conservative commentators; wrong about many things, but likeable and rational in his delivery. Interestingly, the values he refers to are, for the most part, universal: not spending more than one's income, a just link between effort and reward. I think he doesn't quite understand the nature of working in America, however, when he writes that "now most people, even most young people, would rather work long-term for one company than move around in search of freedom and opportunity." No; what people want is stability and the freedom to control how they work, and not have corporations set the rules as to when and how people can work. Furthermore, he severely underestimates the Occupy Wall Street movement, but that's nothing new for him.

A fascinating and revealing look at the new social network taking aim at Facebook. Particularly interesting is an explanation into how it gets paid for. It's free for users, but they choose a brand to endorse their page - this means a single ad for a period of time. Or, you can pay a very small amount to forego the endorsement. Now that's what I call choice.

Video courtesy of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)
Superconductivity Group School of Physics and Astronomy, Tel-Aviv University

Science is awesome. Check this out! The effect is possible thanks to the interaction of magnetic feels and supercooled superconductors.


‘The Robber Bridegroom’: Amusing, but a Barn Short of a Hootennany: THE FRONT PAGE ONLINE

The Long Beach International City Theatre's current production, The Robber Bridegroom.
Based on the 1942 novella by Eudora Welty, which itself is a relatively cheery adaptation of a gruesome tale from the Brothers Grimm, The Robber Bridegroom took on life as a musical in the 1970s with producer Stuart Ostrow’s Musical Theatre Lab. As an early product of a pioneering workshop development model, the first production starred Raul Julia in the role of Jaimie Lockhart and ran for 14 performances at New York’s Harness Theatre before travelling around the county and returning home for a second run of 145 performances at the Biltmore Theatre. A favourite among regional theatres, The Robber Bridegroom has been revived yet again from the archives of musical theatre to close out Long Beach’s International City Theatre 2011 season.
Read the full review at The Front Page Online.

The Robber Bridegroom. Book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry. Music by Robert Waldman. Directed and choreographed by Todd Nielsen. Musical direction by Gerald Sternbach. Starring Chad Doreck, Jamison Michael Stone Forrest, Sue Goodman, Tyler Ledon, Tatiana Mac, Teya Patt, Michael Uribes, and Adam Wylie. On stage at Long Beach’s International City Theatre, Thursday through Sunday, through Sunday, Nov. 6. See www.internationalcitytheatre.org for tickets and information.


'Excuseman' Only Tortures Readers: THE FRONT PAGE ONLINE

In an age saturated by scandals, what we apparently need is a superhero wielding a very large needle to pop the ballooning delusions of celebrity apologetics. Unfortunately, “Excuseman” (aka Chicago trial lawyer Jordan Margolis) is too busy indulging himself to stay focused on his mission to save the world from “insincere apologies for bad behavior from celebrities, politicians and general ne’er-do-wells.” And so, forget a satirical bite at Charlie Sheen’s spectacular spat with CBS and Chuck Lorre. Never mind puncturing John Edwards, although at this point any further skewering of the former presidential candidate amounts to
stealing candy from babies. Pay no mind, either, to any number of meltdowns and disasters on the part of our celebrities and politicians, any one of which exposes hypocritical excesses in need of popping.


news from around the world: week of october 14, 2011

A light reading list for this lovely Friday. Stay tuned for a book review and, next week, one or two quick film/TV reviews.


As a pithy slogan in Alice: Madness Returns points out, "If the living can be spoken ill of, why not the dead?" While I would prefer it to be otherwise, I remain convinced that, with a few exceptions, Apple has been a destructive influence on the world.

Maybe the Republican leadership could petition to leave the human race, since clearly doing something for the good of all goes against their principles?

It's a proven fact that if you deny facts hard enough, the very fabric of reality will warp into Care-a-lot, land of the Care Bears. Of course, it's really the goateed mirror-universe version in which the Don't Care Bears, led by Dollar Bear, attempt to sell their land of Pay-a-Lot to a villainous lot of impoverished peasants.


Steve Jobs, Visionary Merchant of Gadgets : THE FRONT PAGE ONLINE

Never mind the smug self-satisfaction of evangelical Mac users, nor the homogenous, conformist character of Apple design, it's Steve Jobs, the man, who is at the center of attention. With some reports of how tyrannical he was in his quest for "perfection," as described by a self-described "irritating Apple fanatic," I have to wonder about a culture that rewards abusive behaviour, whether in business or elsewhere. But I don't wonder for too long. We live in a society that is more than willing to overlook bad behaviour if we approve of the results of that behaviour, and we see this everywhere:

  • People eating meat despite knowing of the meat industry's cruelty to animals and the fact that processed meat is far inferior to meat from pastured-raised, grass-fed cattle.
  • Buying shoes or clothes from companies whose foreign manufacturers subject workers to degrading, abusive, and unsafe conditions.

And so, reflections on Steve Jobs legacy from someone who isn't unreasonably besotted with Apple products.

...there’s no denying the genius and vision Jobs brought to an impressive array of endeavours, from popularizing the accessible personal computer through the Apple II – an admitted milestone that stands with the efforts of IBM and Microsoft in transforming information technology – to Pixar’s evolution into the animation powerhouse it is today. Nor can we underestimate his accomplishments in turning flabby, out-of-breath business ventures into roaring successes. Yet for all his genius and impact on the technology and entertainment industries, the value of his iconic legacy is questionable.


news from around the world: week of october 7, 2011

Links to a few interesting articles...

All those dystopian science-fiction movies warned us about this sort of thing...but who pays attention to science-fiction movies?

If taxes are high enough so only the wealthy can afford healthy foods, would Denmark return to the Middle Ages when the aristocrats were overweight and the peasants were healthier because they didn't each rich foods every day?


DC bizarrely chose to limit its digital distribution options by joining with Amazon and shutting out Barnes & Noble, effectively giving preferential treatment to Amazon's kindle at the expense of B&N's Nook. So why should B&N support a company that deliberately chose to enter into an exclusive contract with a competitor? I'm with B&N on this one.