03/28/2005

Catching Up…

by Matthew Hawkins

- So Steamboy was pretty disappointing. MK did a good job covering all the basics here, but the biggest problem I had with the film was how mediocre and generic it ended up being. Granted, I had fairly lofty expectations going on; I wasn’t hoping for another Akira (since nothing that’s never going to happen), but I was expecting something more than some generic anime action yarn set in the pseudo-past with steam powered mecha which at this point has been done to death.

Like MK and others have mentioned, the story is both nonexistent or completely nonsensical. I’m one of the few who completely understood what was going on in Akira, and at the 60% mark in Steamboy I just stopped caring. And a weak story would actually be okay, but the film had none of the atmosphere or other ethereal qualities that one would expect in an Otomo piece.

Then there’s the abysmal translation, which gives you the constant feeling that you’re missing something, and the at times annoying voice acting. You have a great talent like Patrick Stewart who has seemingly nothing to work with, so he’s just yelling for the sake of yelling and his character just comes off sounding like Picard in that one Star Trek movie where the Borg is taking over the ship and he goes all Rambo, which is as cheesy as it sounds. And as for the characters, none are especially noteworthy or compelling (or even likable), and all they did was yell the whole damn time.

Everyone keeps saying that “well at least it looks awesome” and the animation is technically impressive, but even that wasn’t enough for me. Then again, it’s really not Otomo’s fault… he help set the standard of what anime looks like and folks have been following his lead (i.e. copying him) for years now, to the point that he distinct look and style is practically generic. But still, too much time and way too much money was spent on a film that’s ultimately bland and by the numbers. Some films just misses the boat and you can see potential in spots, but this one was just a drawn-out, boring, loud mess.

And as MK said, I guess I’m just pissed that there was no giant robot near the end.

- As for the rest of the holiday weekend, I spent much of it getting acquinted with MK’s family. On Saturday we hung out with her grandmother who made us a really scrumptious dinner. Since I was interested in looking for an air purifier, I figured on checking out some local stores and MK though it would be a good idea to bring her along since she rarely gets the chance to get out of the house (she doesn’t have a car, and doesn’t even know how to drive), so she came with us to Target and Wal Mart.

I managed to find a good deal on a decent air purifier at Target (I’ve spent all last week doing research online) plus I scored some DVDs at primo prices: X2 for $13 and Pulp Fiction for just $10. I also got Starfox Assault because they had copies without the annoying “Best Seller” imprint on it. Yes, I’m one of those video game dorks. And Wal Mart was fun just for the people watching aspect. Seemed like every employee had a sore or something on their faces and my fave “customer” was some fat kid with a mohawk that was running around who at one point said “Dang!” either due to extreme bemusement or disappoint, I forget which. MK and I mainly just killed time in the toy section so her grandmother could just flex her legs, and I found some “robot feet” from the film Robots that makes mechanical sounds when you walk (just think of those Hulk hands but for your feet). It reminded me of an idea I had a for a cartoon character a whiles back… Rodney the Robot Kicker. He was a dog transported to the future when robots had replaced man’s best friend, so he goes around in huge robotic boots (the feet from some fallen foe) and just kicks other robots. Anyway, I’m so pissed that they didn’t have any in adult 10 and a half.

Later that night we watched the Paris Hilton episode of SNL, which I wouldn’t have bothered with if not for the fact that I hadn’t seen television all week since moving and was dying for just something. It wasn’t a totally wretched episode… the nerd phone sex sketch was pretty funny… but there was one called Bear Land, which is about when all humans have died and bears have replaced them in society, yet they can’t talk , that was positively the funniest, most absurdly brilliant thing they’ve had on for years (bear in mind, I was a hardcore Toonces the Driving Cat fan).

Afterwards, he headed out to MK’s family beach-house with a brief stop at a Wawa for some late night chicken sandwiches. We got to bed super late and I slept in till around 1ish the next day. Thankfully MK let me sleep in while her and her mother went to church, and on the while back, she ran over some exposed pipe in the middle of the road or something which slashed a tire. Christ, I’ve never met anyone who’s had such bad luck with driving before.

Easter dinner itself included a visit from MK’s uncle Brendan, who’s really funny, and his wife and two daughters. The highlight of the evening after dinner while MK was in the basement doing laundry and I was in the bedroom reading comics; I noticed a burning smell, but didn’t think too much of it (no offense to her, but MK’s mom is not a great cook, so I… as well as others….. assumed it was just some dessert she was trying to make). But after a while, I went downstairs to ask MK if she smelled anything, and then I noticed some smoke coming out of a light where a wall and the ceiling met). We reported this to everyone else and MK’s mom called the fire department while the rest of us evacuated the house, though we made sure to also take with us out valuables, like the rest of the donuts from the morning. About a thousand fire, police, and EMT folks showed up and after some investigating, took out the problem light and disaster was averted.

Unfortunately, all the excitement meant that I got home much later than I had hoped, but I still stayed up to install the Airport Extreme card on my eMac and was finally able to catch up on all the email that’s been piling up over the past week. Plus I even downloaded some music from Gran Turismo 4 overnight.

- While in Jersey, MK gave me even more comics to read, which has really come in handy since I now have to deal with the slow-ass R train. Last week I got through the Teenager From Mars trade which was a lot of fun, and while at the beach house I read the first four issue run of Hopeless Savages. Late last night, while making ramen, I started the first Y The Last Man trade and I should be done by the end of tonight. And yes… I have finally cooked a meal at my new place! It’s the first meal I have cooked in literally years!!!

Next up is Strangers in Paradise, which I’ve forever heard acclaim about, 30 Days of Night, MK’s other fave comic, Blue Monday, the next Hopeless Savages collection, and some other stuff that’s I’m blanking on. Plus I should probably try to finish Cromartie High School vol. 1 which I picked up at Jim Hanley’s last weekend sometime soon.

- I also finally got this past Friday. I’ve been meaning to switch forever, but it finally took the worst experience with Sprint customer service last week to finally drive me away.

I was trying to pay my monthly bill online last week and discovered that there was no way to change my billing info via the Sprint website (I had just moved and needed to add my new Brooklyn address). So I called customer service and the first person instantly switched me over to this guy who off the back had some serious attitude. After a few minutes, not only did the guy say the problem was not fixable, he said that you can’t pay your bills online anyway. When I told him that I had been paying my bills online for two years, he said “No you weren’t.” I didn’t feel like arguing, so I demanded to talk to his supervisor, and then the guy started to protest “What did I do wrong?! What did I say?!” I just kept saying “I want to talk to your supervisor, and eventually I got someone.

This person, a woman, asked what the problem was. I explained the reason why I called first, and then described the guy attitude from right before. And then she said the one thing which I always hear from a Sprint rep that drives me totally nuts: “I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you.” And to that, I had to reply with an honest: “Of course you can’t hear me, no one can hear me, cuz I’m on Sprint!”

And then she hung up on me! What a bitch!

So I called back, totally fuming. This time I got a really nice and competent sounding fellow (which is always the case the second time around… why can’t I ever get them the first time?) and explained him the original problem, the asshole who couldn’t fix it, and the supervisor who had the gall to hang up, and then demanded to speak with whoever was in charge. This guy was super (and genuinely) apologetic and tried to fix my problems while his superior was available, and changed the address. Finally I got his boss, another woman, and explained everything, and she too seemed sincerely appalled by such poor customer treatment. When she asked what she could do to make things better, I told her that nothing really could be done…. I had been mistreated and mislead so many times, given false and empty promise after false and empty promise, and countless assurances that my account would be appropriated credited for all the headaches that Sprint’s shoddy practices have given me, and none of it has ever materialized.

But I did want something. What? A letter of apology. And what did I hear in response from the woman? “Absolutely. For a letter for an apology, please write to…” They wanted me to fucking write them a letter so I could receive a letter of apology? Fuck them. Fuck Sprint.

So immediately afterwards, I went looking for another carrier. Verizon was immediately out of the questions since PixelJump’s tools and software is incompatible with Verizon’s, so it was down to T-Mobile and Cingular. Even though I knew T-Mo sucked from hearing friends bitch about the crap reception and dropped calls, I was still tempted due to the Samsung e715 which I’ve had my eye on since day one (so fucking sexy) and now it can be found at a reasonable price.

But I eventually decided upon Cingular and the Sony-Ericsson Z500a. I’ve been using it for a few days now, and it’s not a bad little phone. While I initially had issues with the OS, I’ve found it to be just as robust as Samsung’s, and in some instances better (I was using the a620. The phone may seem too big, but I actually like the size, its feels ultra comfortable, the construction is very sturdy, and has terrific reception. I just wish the ear piece was a bit louder and that there every button could be personalized. Plus, like every cell phone out there, it comes with the worst assortment of ringtones known to mankind. Seriously, who the fuck thinks a baby crying makes a ringtone?!

- Some quick game related stuff….

Check this fairly decent fake (at least, I believe they’re fake) screens from the aforementioned Gunstar Super Heroes. I have to admit, I got excited when I first saw these…

- So it would seem Sony’s Dual Shock infringes on some patents, and they are gonna have to pay some big bucks. But this is Sony, they’ll survive, plus it only really applies in the US. And as one person has already pointed out, is legal crap like this why the really cool stuff stays in Japan?

- Recently announced is Namco’s new classic collection for the PS2, which I’m getting just for Klonoa 1 which I foolishly passed the first time around (though I did grabsoundtrack when I came across it, which is now ultra rare… worth every single penny). Too bad it’s version of Ridge Race will most likely be based on the original PSone version and not the original arcade game.

- So Sly Cooper 3 is coming later this year. Okay, not a big surprise. But how about a Ratchet and Clank game without Clank? Apparently he goes solo in his next game, which is supposed to be more mature in tone, but it’s really a pointless and dumb idea. No gives a rat’s ass over Ratchet, some malformed furry; it’s all about the cute little robot!

At least it’s better than the next Jax game that’s going to be some racing game. Boring…

- Speaking of racing, here’s some screens from Trackmania Sunrise, an intense looking PC racer from France that I’ve been eyeing for a while (being an arcade racer fanatic and all). Looks fucking insane…

The demo is available now, but only in French. Once I find out about an American version, I’ll pass it along. Meanwhile, you can see the game in motion here.

  • http://www.vitaminsteve.com Steve!

    I actually liked Steamboy more than Akira (the movie, not the comic), but I’m easier to please.

    -Steve!

  • http://www.megadeuce.com Judge Ito

    http://www.gamershell.com/download_8634.shtml

    If the title is to be believed, it’s an English demo for Trackmania Sunrise.

    If you haven’t discovered it already, enjoy!

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