05/25/2010

That’s So “Gamer Guy Who Has More Videogames Than Friends.”

by Matthew Hawkins

In this post:
1. Iron Man’s still cool.
2. The census job is already chock-full of wacky stories.
3. Art and games, merging quite wonderfully.
4. A not so bad movie about Second Life.
5. LOL bloggers.
6. Early contender for game of the year, without a doubt.
7. Jizzmoppa is a hit! At least with some.
8. I still hate the MTA.
9. Nothing but black, and some final words.
10. Various sneak peeks at stuff.
11. God bless the printed page.
12. God bless Matthew Barney.
13. And God bless indie wrestling.
14. Plus everything else that’s gone down the past 2+ weeks.

So there’s been like a billion things going on; some of it rad, some of it retarded, much of it exhausting. Hope no one minds me forgoing my usual attempts at categorization and selectivity in lieu of a (semi) chronological rundown…

5/7/10

- Caught Iron Man 2 on opening night with Katie, Dave Mauro, and Joe Salina. Verdict? We loved it. Even Joe, who had never seen the first one. Crazy, I know! Despite the sequel not being absolutely perfect like the original, it was still pretty damn awesome; there was some trepidation going in, since many superhero sequels drop the ball, especially when they try to flesh out the universe by introducing a billion new faces and concepts. But once again, Robert Downey Jr. was simply a ton of fun to watch as the dick-head billionaire in his fancy metallic duds, plus Jon Favreau kept the action/story going at a nice and smooth pace. As expected, Don Cheadle was an awesome addition to the cast, and Scarlett Johansson was quite the eye candy. Pretty much the only thing that would have made it absolutely perfect was if Mickey Rourke’s character was indeed Crimson Dynamo instead of Whiplash, but that’s just the hardcore Iron Man fanboy part of me whining for the sake of whining. Best part was after the credits rolled. Not what happened on screen, but among the audience when the big reveal took place, some dude way up front thrust both arms and fists in the air to declare “YYYEEESSS!!!” (as did many other patrons). And between us, some guy took a flash photo of what was onscreen! Not sure if dude knew what was coming, but he was prepared.

5/8/10

- I’ve only just started knocking on people’s doors, and not surprisingly, there?s already a million stories from my census gig. But once again, I?ve sworn to keep all details completely confidential. Well, what if I keep things nice and vague? Since the federal government is involved, better safe than sorry. Though I hardly doubt I’ll be fired for saying that, on my very first day of going to people’s homes, I did in fact get a knife pulled on me. Though it’s not as bad as it sounds. Regarding the details, you’ll just have to ask me in person!

5/9/10

- Mike (Nowak) posted this awesome snapshot from TCAF, which made me upset that I wasn’t able to attend all over again…

- I’m WAY overdue for another healthy link dump, which will still have to wait, but I can’t help but pass along a few, especially if it’s semi-related to a particular subject at hand. For example, since we’re talking about art shows and all, has everyone had a chance to check out this year’s My Famicase Exhibition?

… There?s also something similar, from a good friend no less, that the world has yet to see. Which should hopefully be rectified via the Attract Mode blog very soon! Stay alert.

5/10/10

- Once again, beaten to punch by Kotaku; remember a while back, when Hilary mentioned spotting a packet of viagra at her local deli that featured a pair of Street Fighters, and my unsuccessful attempt at snagging a pic? Well here it is, but via someone else…

- A great man also passed away that day. I’m talking about Frank Frazetta. Many people have paid tribute to fantasy’s greatest illustrator, with my favorite being this beautiful piece by the superborthers super team…

- And here’s a bunch of pictures of Jeff Minter unboxing his iPad and showing it off to his close friends

5/11/10

- Saw another movie, something a little bit different, at the IFC Center. And no, it was wasn’t Human Centipede. Anyway, Jason got me a membership for Christmas, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve barely touched the thing since then. Well, the original idea was for me to save tons of money when the New York Asian Film Fest rolled around this summer (actually, it starts next month), but plan has been scrap-heaped thanks to how its moving to Lincoln Center of all place. Pretty upset over that for a number or reasons. Anyhow, finally was able to dust my membership card off for Life 2.0, a documentary on Second Life users. Because I absolutely loathe SL, I went in wanting to hate the movie (and in the beginning, I kept on making admittedly unfair comparisons to Second Skin, another documentary, this one on folks who play MMOs, and which I’ve become a huge fanboy of). But in the end it, it was actually fairly enjoyable, though I’m a sucker for documentaries in general, so long as the subjects are halfway interesting.

I’ll save the proper review for later… for my dormant for way too long GameSetWatch column, which is where I also need to review the aforementioned Second Skin, along with my real ace in the hole, perhaps the most obscure video game movie EVER that K Thor was kind enough to provide on a ratty old VHS tape, literally years ago, and which I’m increasingly afraid of seeing pop up on YouTube out of the blue any day now. But I will say that one of the best parts was how one dude, eager to cut his ties to the game, had chosen a definitive day to die, and how it follows his actions and thought during this timeframe.

Afterwards was a Q&A with the director, and the movie itself was part of some special series called “Stranger Than Fiction”. I believe every Tuesday night at the IFC Center, they show a different documentary; the host mentioned an upcoming selection, centered on NASCAR racing that sounded pretty damn interesting. The crowd was pretty much affluent white folks in their 40s or older, so basically no real gamers in the audience, and the questions reflected this demographic. Everything was nice and innocent until some loon that actually plays Second Life took the mic. Good God. Of course this person has to identify herself via her “avatar” and of course she’s an artist… in Second Life. You know, I’m generally pretty open minded when it comes to the fine arts (case in point, I recently caught all of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster, more on that later), but there is seriously nothing lamer than an artist in Second Life, sorry. Just shoot yourself.

But yeah, be sure to keep an eye out for my review of Life 2.0, which is coming soon! I hope. And if anyone wants to see Human Centipede with me, please let me know, cuz virtually every friend I’ve asked thus far seems to find the trailer and even the very concept of the film off-putting for whatever reason. Though the real hotness is Crispin Hellion Glover, who will not only host What Is It, which I first saw many years back (be sure to look in the archives for my original review), but also the sequel It Is Fine, Everything Is Fine! Along with his slideshow that he’s been touring around the country for years; Christmas has indeed come early.

- Via Figure.fm, some extremely impressive Halo cosplay

5/12/10

- Capcom was in town that afternoon, to give us east coast video game writers who couldn’t make it out to their “Captivate” event on the west coast from a few weeks ago a bit of that action. Among other things, got to check out the new multiplayer mode and weapon augmentation feature in Dead Rising 2, plus had my first taste of Sengoku Basara 3 (the PS3 version), both of which were quite awesome btw, but which I might be writing about for EGM, so I’ll save the specifics for that end. Though truth be told, my enjoyment of said games were severely hampered by the antics of some of my brethren, who shall remain nameless (but anyone who follows me on Twitter might know whom I’m referring to). In the end, it was just another sad reminder of why my tolerance for other bloggers, specifically those in the game journalism field, has never been lower.

Guess I’ve been in a particularly foul mood ever since recently, when I called someone rather high up on the food chain out, and this person’s only response was to ask how much money I made. And despite my assertion that it had absolutely with the argument at hand, this other person felt it necessary to point out that I was nothing more than a “two bit, no name blogger” who is not “riding with the big boys” like this particular person. Again, not naming names, since if I were to do so, it could possibly cause a big internet war between myself and the other party, and I will openly admit that this other person has a zillion “fans”, so it would be an unwinnable contest to say the least. I also recently ran into an old colleague, whose original background is in print, much like myself, and we both commiserated over how we both miss that world, in which the pay was good, and you actually had to do work to earn said scratch, which translated to actual standards that had to be met, all of which is virtually nonexistent thanks to the blogosphere that currently rules supreme, along with its stupid cult of personalities, among many other perils and pitfalls. BUT WHERE WAS I? OH YES!

Easily the best game there was Ghost Trick. For those who haven’t seen the trailer, here it is again, and for those who still need an explanation, here it is: you play a recently deceased dude who protect still breathing pals and gum up the plans of the bad guys by possessing inanimate objects that are within the scene (hence the title “ghost tricks”). It’s by the creator of Phoenix Wright and has been a secret project for quite some time now, a true labor of love, and it clearly shows. Everything, from the graphics, primarily the absolutely beautiful animation, to the whimsical script, and most especially the finely tuned gameplay, screams like it’s been brewing in some secret lab for many years. Easy contender for GOTY, even at this early point. Also got to play around with Okamiden, and it too was pretty fantastic, and something tells me that I’m probably going to enjoy it far more than the console original, and others will feel the same exact way once they get their hands on it. For starters, the paintbrush aspect works much better this time, via the stylus, instead of waving around the Wiimote all-awkward like (sorry, never played the PS2 version, so can’t tell how the traditional controls worked).

- Steam for the Mac also finally came out that day. Unlike many, Portal installed and played for me like a dream! At least for the first day; day two brought about an update to the client that essentially broke the game (you couldn’t see through the portals; instead it was just all black), but that’s been resolved. Anyhow, here’s a comic that the Babycastles dudes posted to mark the occasion, which I found hilarious…

5/13/10

- Speaking of NYC’s one and only indie arcade (well, up until recently), had to pass on a Babycastles thing that evening due to my aforementioned part-time, government goon gig. Worst part was how Adam (Saltsman) was there and I totally missed the dude! Bummer.

At least his tweet afterwards made my day: “last night I watched Tom Fulp score over 3200 on jizzmoppa on the first try!” Which means I also missed my chance to hang with the brains behind Alien Hominid, Castle Crashers, and Newgrounds. Fuck. At least I’ve already bothered the guy PAX East a few weeks back, where I actually interviewed him for EGM (not sure when it’s going to be published, or where, but hopefully soon.

- Via Eric Zimmerman comes this NYU film student’s short documentary about New York City’s arcade scene, which happens to lightly address the now long gone “golden era” that anyone who is familiar with me knows I’m quite obsessed with. It’s short and sweet and worth a look!

- And via Simon, from GDC Canada

- Related, as well as old news I realize, but congrats once again to Brandon Boyer for becoming the new IGF chairman! There is seriously and most absolutely no better person for such a post.

- May as well pull these up now; recent highlights from Brandon’s Tumblr. First, am amazing mash-up of footage from various films, mostly game related cinema, though other stuff manages to sneak in as well. Second, a classic short film from the 80s that proves that the overall perception of videos as a whole was simply a lot more exciting back then. And finally, the greatest iPhone game ever that has yet to be made.

- Sorry, but I also can’t help but link to least one Sankaku Complex post, and of course it’s pervy as all hell.

5/14/10

- Been a while since I last bitched about the subways, hasn’t it? Here’s the deal: was running late to an appointment, but only because the trains themselves were running late, so needless to say I was pissed that I had just missed the N upon setting foot on the 57th Street platform. But at least the Q was waiting in the wings on the opposite track; for those who aren’t too familiar with the Coney Island express, it’s that last stop for that train in Manhattan, and sits there till another Q arrives. Once that happens, it almost immediately gets going, often surpassing whatever local train had just arrived and departed on the other side. Sometimes two or even three local trains will pass by before moving, but it eventually does, and even catches up to that first local train. Not this time, of course. After the literally the eight R or N passed by, I had to investigate…

I went towards the center of the train, cuz that’s where the conductor is usually at, and saw him speaking with another passenger. More like yelling. I arrived just as the conductor stated that they weren’t moving an inch until the guy got out of his face, which immediately made me go “Wait, we haven’t been going this entire time cuz you’ve been busy arguing?” His response? To go on the intercom and tell everyone that we weren’t moving because of two hostile passengers. Even though I have no idea what prompted the fight in the first place, I’m fairly certain it was the MTA employee that instigated the situation, for being a huge cock (it certainly looked like he was just pissed that the train was going nowhere and was only seeking an explanation). My immediate reaction was to blurt out “What bullshit” and the MTA goon naturally had to warn me that he was going to call the cops on me. Cuz I was not only calling him out, I’m sorry, harassing him, but using foul language. And then someone, who I can only assume was the MTA employee’s buddy (they love to just stand around the shoot the sit with other employees, while on the clock, but this other guy was in regular clothes) had to say that the cops would “beat the shit out of me.” Despite that fact that this dude could easily waste me himself, I immediately shot back with “stay out of this asshole”, which then prompted the MTA guy to go “look, I’m warning you; curse one more time…”

“First off, I was talking to your pal” I shot back, along with “Second, what, I don’t have my first amendment rights?” All of a sudden the conductor pretended to hear something on his wire and made another condescending announcement: “We are experience issues with the track and will be moving once I get the signal”, followed by “Not my fault! Didn’t you hear my boss?” in the most fake sincere way possible. Across the way another R arrived, and not know if the guy was indeed fucking with us, me and the other pissed passenger got onboard. As soon as its door closed, so the did the Q’s and immediately began to move, with the conductor flashing us both the bird. And that pretty much put me in the foulest mood possible for the rest of the day! BTW, on a side note, that safe afternoon, but on my way back (btw, I had totally missed my aforementioned engagement, and my entire afternoon was thrown for a loop, no thanks to the pieces of shit that the MTA employs), at Time Square, I saw a woman trying to keep a closing E train door from closing by putting her shopping bag, but it didn’t work. Instead, it just hung there in mid-air. And despite the fact that the conductor was aware of what was going on… he watched the whole thing… the train then pulled away, with the bag hitting unsuspecting people waiting for their train, one after another. The biggest ‘fuck-you’ from a conductor to a hapless passenger I had ever witnessed (certainly topping my own bullshit from earlier). Needless to say that woman was pissed.

- Later on I met up with Katie and Joe for drinks. Found a new favorite watering hole in the East Village cuz the cans of PBR are like $2. Among the many topics covered was Joe’s line of work; the dude is a high school teacher, and without getting into specifics… everyone knows, the state of New York City is making so absurdly ridiculous cutbacks when it comes to education, which unfortunately is all too inline with the nation’s blas? attitude when it comes to this country’s future. Bottom-line, it made me feel extremely selfish and idiotic for getting so upset over my stupid line of work, something that is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things that it’s not even funny. Though on that note, it makes fellow game creators’ and journalists’ bitching about how rough their lives are seem especially infantile, but that speaks more of my issue with things like Twitter more than anything else.

- I must admit; every once in a while, the knuckleheads at Select Button do dig up some interesting stuff. It is filled with hardcore MGS/Kojima nerds after-all.

5/15/10

- Two big things from last Saturday. First, along with Joe and Dave, went out to 319Scholes to check out PASSAGE, a selection of six different installations that includes one by Jeremiah. Here’s Isfet checking out Jill Haefele’s “Living Headphones”…

… With the dirt and foliage acting as a buffer to outside sounds, you instead heard the minuscule movements of praying mantises, which were quite soothing. And here’s dmauro in Nahanaeli Schelling’s “A Series Of Walks/A Series of Walks (Displaced)”, a room filled with projected street footage that was shot via a full body suit which had cameras affixed all over…

By far the best one (not to sound biased and all) was Jeremiah’s “The Aesthetics of Accidents”. No pictures unfortunately, since the entire thing is a pitch-black space with only a b&w monitor in the center that’s mostly blank, which intermittently displays the last words recorded on the black boxes from plane crashes over the past fifty of so years. Haunting to say the least. One can get the basic gist by checking out the installation’s homepage, though it’s best experienced in person to get the proper effect.

- Afterwards, we made the trek to Clinton Hill for the Babycastles 2 grand opening. Sorry, “Famous” Babycastles 2. Which is technically just Syed’s backyard, but whatever! Here’s Ivan’s latest, Detective Geronimo’s Therapy Session. You know a place is Babycastles when you’ve got an “arcade cab” like this…

… It’s also super rad, definitely worth the download. Anyhow, it was a pretty happening affair, filled with assorted games (all of which was centered around the theme of “noir”) and assorted games folk, like Josh and Steve (who was not able to convince Evan [Narcisse] to come out, plus Adam was also sadly absent).

I would say the highlight was stumbling onto the roof in a total drunken stupor and the challenge it was getting back down, but the real excitement was the heated debate raging below over Jizzmoppa, i.e. what kind of asshole would make such a thing, as one person apparently asked, according to Kunal. I’m fairly certain that ultra cute feminist chick that gave me the stink guy at my zine release party was part of the conversation, since she lives there and all (a roommate of Syed’s to be exact). I’ve also been told that Jizzmoppa is a hit in general, and not just among indie game types, but by Silent Barn regulars, who are blown away by the concept. To the degree that it’s basically been classified as “Babycastles’ Super Columbine RPG!” I’ll take whatever compliment I can get.

Afterwards, I found myself at some vegan eatery in Willamsburg that both Joe and Dave swore by, and their fake chicken legs were legit awesome! More than satisfactory to this ardent meat eater; if you’re reading this Travis, it’s called Foodswings, you should definitely check it out. And the night ended with one last drink at some bar nearby, where I ran into an old friend from SVA, Esao Andrews! That was certainly neat.

5/16/10

- Stopped by Jeremiah’s apartment as he was getting ready for the road to pick up some shirts; hope Adam (Robezzoli) doesn’t mind me spoiling the surprise, but remember ? Well Attract Mode is going to start selling it very soon! Though the real prize was this…

… Yup, the brand new limited edition tee (only fifty in existence) that he’s only selling on tour! And while I’m certain at this point I’m not the only person who owns such a thing of beauty, since one date is already accounted for (be sure to check the schedule to see if he’s playing in your town), but I was definitely the very first lucky owner of one! Not only that, Jeremiah mentioned it was my impassioned plea (along with a few others) that brought about the existence of the shirt in the first place!

- Time for Indie Game: The Movie. The Kickstarter went live that day, and word of the project spread like wildfire, because just two days later they met their goal of $15,000. Most impressive.

And for the record, some might recall hearing me bitching about Kickstarter, primarily on Twitter. Once more, there are examples in which it can be used for good, like to raise money for a big project like this one. And then there are other instances, in which people are simply being lazy and using it to beg for money, often centered around some project that could easily be achieved without any outside assistance and a little bit of hard work. I think we can all think of a few examples at this point. Moving on…

5/17/10

- Bit.Tip Runner finally came out! And I found it a billion times more enjoyable than my initial taste of the game from PAX East; as noted in my Heavy.com rundown of the game… which never ran for various reasons… couldn’t play the damn thing due to not being able to hear the music, which is somewhat of a must with any of the Bit.Trip games.

- Speaking of, here’s a neat look at the game, along with its influences via Bitmob, and courtesy of Zen Albatross is a look at the chiptunes component specifically (and naturally).

And here’s a little something else by Josh, from some time ago that I just stumbled across. Perfect for those who love classic NES games, all glitched up.

- Yet another clip, which isn’t specific to a video game, but I’m sure it could be made the basis for one!

- Finally finished watching the official American release of Evangelion: 1.11 You Are Not Alone, which for those who aren’t in the know, is the first of four motion pictures that retells the tale told in the original series, but with enhanced big robot scenes and added t&a. Somewhat; as I would discover, the US version is slightly edited from the Japanese cut from three years ago. The shot of Rei on the floor, after Shinji falls on-top of her is slightly zoomed in, enough to cause her nipple to be out of the frame. BTW, one can see the original, pulled back version here (link is obviously NSFW). Otherwise, all other instances of 14 year old nudity is left totally intact! Hey, it’s a cartoon, is it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds…. right?

- Like I said earlier, gonna pass along a gigantic hit-list of must check outs later down the road, but I can’t help but mention Tiny Cartridge a few times in every single update, regardless. Because EVERYONE needs to see pictures of some guy dressed up as a DS flash cart, pronto (who is actually from this video, posted some time ago, and which I somehow missed the first time around).

5/18/10

- Guess what finally showed up in my mail? My copy of the Screen Craps zine!

… Got it in a trade for some UNLUCKYs plus an issue of Nurse Nurse. Thankfully both Paul and Andrea, the two-person team behind the blog and the zine, were quite satisfied with the exchange! I knew they would love Katie’s comics, since it’s super kawaii, but was also happy to hear that they enjoyed my non-wimpy auto-bio comics. Which reminds me, I really should make some more. Also, grab your copy here!

- Interviewed Chris Burke, aka Glomag, for my very EGM feature! The first of many I hope. And it’s about… you guessed it… chiptunes. Was originally slated for the digital version, but now I understand that it’s for the actual print edition! BTW, you guys do know that the print mag is available now, right? There seems to be quite a bit of confusion on that one; many believed it was going to make its grand reappearance at E3, but nope, you can find it at Barnes & Nobles and Borders at the very least.

But it was while I was writing the thing in which I discovered that there’s a version of Nanoloop (a popular music sequencer for the Game Boy that many 8-bit musicians use, including Chris) for the iPhone! Though I don’t know enough to say how it compares to the real deal. Anyone out there know?

- Speaking of magazines, finally heard from the ultra sexy video game rag from France, AMUSEMENT magazine. Was hoping to get Attract Mode to distribute their stuff in America. Well, long story short, not really possible right now, but there’s always possibilities later down the road. Hey, I tried at least! In the meanwhile, a taste from their latest issue

- For whatever reason, the No More Heroes hype train is all of a sudden in full effect. Well, it is just coming out in Australia, hence the reproduction of Travis Touchdown’s Bizarre Jelly 5 shirt as a pre-order bonus in Australian. Oh, if there are any Aussies out there reading this who could possibly lend a hand in getting hold of one, please email me!

Then you have the United Assassin Association’s Quiz or DIE; for those ready to take the challenge, here’s the first question. But the craziest would have to be the NMH 2 inspired lingerie!

On a side note, my copy of the first game, for the PS3, along with the pre-order bonuses for both versions, along with the new book that just came out in Japan, is long overdue. I hope to God they didn’t get lost in transit.

- Meanwhile, I’m a bit saddened that not nearly as people have taken gotten as excited over this wacky Lady Gaga in Japan vid. Its like someone wanted to make a Gaga game, but decided to go back in time and make it for the Sega Saturn’s launch.

- This quote from Bryan Lee O’Malley made me laugh, for various reasons: “games will be art when there’s a game about a guy buying a game he can’t play because he’s so busy drawing a comic about a guy playing games.”

5/19/10

- Attention Dave Mauro: Deathsmiles coaster

- And from Adam Atomic comes a most superb game recommendation; words simply do it zero justice.

- Went back to the IFC Center with Katie in tow to check out Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle, numbers 1 & 2 to be exact. I realize most find Cremaster to be insufferably pretentious and boring art house bullshit. And guess what? They are! Also guess what? They happen to be AWESOMELY executed pretentious and boring art house bullshit. I had only seen the entire series in chunks, and this was years back, at his tour de force Guggenheim exhibition from almost ten years ago, so the chance to see them all in a row, chronologically, was something I could not miss.

Cremaster 1 consists of a chorus line presenting various formations on a football field, many of them symbolic to the male reproductive system, with two Goodyear blimps above, also representing testicles. Also, semi-bored looking flight attendants watching on. The film is what it is, a perfect example of an artist who is still trying to figure things out; the use of symbolism is a bit too obvious for my tastes. Plus, the not so hot CGI really dates the film, and the not so hot dancing is still as cringe-worthy now as the first time I saw it; since it’s so early into the project, I’m assuming Barney didn’t have as many resource nor as much control has he wanted/needed, and had to take what he could get. By no means horrible, just the weakest of the five films.

Meanwhile, Cremaster 2, is simply kick-ass. Aside from being a great counterpoint to the serene, peaceful first installment, with its tense atmosphere and ultra violent over/undertones, it’s simply a visceral showcase of Barney’s now firm grasp of the medium, as well as his vision (or at least his ability to completely deliver it, presumably). After-all, you’ve got a mesmerizing, practically otherworldly landscape that echoes Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, the drummer from Slayer plus lead singer of Morbid Angel covered in bees (as “Johnny Cash”), a symbolic prison rodeo scene plus a symbolic square dance routine, a completely computer generated Mormon Tabernacle Choir (at this point, either the budget or technology has caught up to the point where the effect is now quite convincing), Barney himself as the killer Gary Gilmore, and the man who helped to create the mythos, Norman Mailer, as Harry Houdini, whom Mailer theorized was Gilmore’s grandfather.

Hey, did I ever mention the time when I was running the Medieval Times store in Time Square and some guy offered to sell me the real Gilmore gun, cuz the one in whatever crime museum is a total fake? He even let me hold the thing, which I did. Yes, I once held what was supposedly a murder weapon that contained mystical properties, and was therefore highly sought after by weapons collectors and religious zealots alike, but which only a select few could rightfully posses (in my case, I was born in 1977, the same year Gilmore was executed). In retrospect, it was extremely foolish of me to hand an actual firearm with my bare hands (let alone, out in the open, where I was working… and yes, it was a real gun).

Anyhow, the second Cremaster is my favorite for all those reasons, and more (aside from the absolutely brilliant third installment of course, which is in a category in itself), and definitely high art cinema at its finest. Meanwhile, the very next night…

5/20/10

- Was back again, this time for Cremaster 4 & 5. Would have seen 3 in-between, but simply couldn’t fit it in our schedules, especially since by itself the movie is three hours long, plus Cremaster 3 so amazing that it more than easily stands on its own anyway. And most importantly, Matthew Barney was in attendance, but only for that evening’s screening!

As the very first one filmed, Cremaster 4 feels the most raw, yet brings a lot to the table and is considerably more ambitious than the chronological first in the series (despite having the leanest budget as well); a tap dancing ram, whose routine is so intense that a hole is formed on the dance floor, causing me to fall into the ocean, two competing racing teams that traverse the Isle of Mann, and the female bodybuilding “faeries” that lend assistance all about. It’s easy to see how Barney was able to make everyone take notice of the guy with such a compelling first piece (and thusly acquire additional financing).

Cremaster 5, despite being the last in the series is the middle one to be produced, and definitely feels the most evolved. It’s here where things begin to feel epic in scope, and the use of opera helps drive home the effect. But despite the grandeur of it all, the queen lamenting the loss of her love, who kills himself when attempting to reach another plane of existence, who is later reincarnated as both veiled man trying to impress her with his feats of strength and grace, as well as androgynous giant who has ribbons with pigeons at the end attached to his groin. It’s far slower paced than all the rest, hence the reputation of it being a snoozer, though my biggest issue is Ursula Andress’s performance as the queen; it’s way too evident that she’s lip-syncing. Still, it’s visually compelling, and like I said, is a gigantic leap forward from the relatively hokey “it’s video art, lol” look of the first two in the series. I guess what helps the most is the shift to HD.

Next up was the star attraction: Barney along with some big bigwig from the New Museum, who mostly just asked about Cremaster 4 & 5 (oh God, what I would pay to hear the artist talk about 3 all night long). Next were questions from the audience, which as expected, were extremely lame; even the other dude had to tell everyone beforehand that he wanted actual questions, not some stupid statement, i.e. people grandstanding with their lame attempts at demonstrating how good they are at dissecting arty-farty bullshit.

Afterwards, Katie and I grabbed dinner at Five Guys Burgers, which was awesome, but was another painful reminder as to why we never hang out in the west village. Sorry, but I’ll take dipshit hipsters & trustafarians over yuppies & guidoes any day. But on our way back to the train station, we spotted Barney walking down the street, all by himself! Still kicking myself for not coming up to him and saying hello. I guess one of the main reasons why I love his work so much is cuz he just seems like a really cool dude, not some pretentious douche like most fine artists. The fact that he looks like a man’s man, both by how he clearly keeps himself in good shape and is obviously into football, and not some fragile wimp is an automatic thumbs up in my book. That and how he managed to bag Bjork, that’s pretty awesome too.

- Speaking of the IFC, as I might have noted previously, this year’s New York Asian Film Festival is not going to be held there for the most part (though there will be special midnight screenings). This was a serious cause for concern, not just because Lincoln Center is far more of a hassle to go to but the vibe there is totally different, so I was afraid that the selection this year would reflect this. Well revealed that same day was all the Japanese movies that will be screened, and it’s clear that all concerns were completely unwarranted.

First you’ve got a new movies from Go Shibata, whose Late Bloomer will always have a place in my heat, simply because it introduced to me the sounds of World’s End Girlfriend. Well, Doman Seman, looks equally amazing, since it’s a zombie movie that actually looks interesting (I find the subject matter, for the most part, to be extremely boring these days). Alien vs Ninja looks like one of those movies that could be loads of fun, but could also be dumb as hell (I must say, I’m not so much into the Japanese gore genre as much these days, since nothing has yet to come close to Tokyo Gore Police), whereas Golden Slumber will be a must see, only cuz it?s by the director of Fish Story, which was perhaps the best selection from last year’s festival.

Finally (on the Japan side at least; still haven’t checked out the just announced offerings from Korea) you’ve got the latest from Hitoshi Matsumoto, the genius behind Big Man Japan, that’s all 2001-like.

- Guess who else is headed back to NYC? Hideo Kojima! Much like he did for Metal Gear Solid 4, he’s doing the same for part 5 (well, that’s what Peace Walker was called originally), which is sign autographs at UNIQLO, which will also be carrying a new line of totally hawt looking shirts! Gonna make sure I get there nice and early, but even though, I’m certain chaos will ensue like last time.

And for good measure, a wacky Japanese TV spot for the game.

5/21/10

- Like most folks, I spent way too much time playing Pac Man on the Google homepage…

… Even though I thoroughly sucked at it, since I can no longer play any version that doesn’t have a joystick attached. Hence why I mostly celebrated the little yellow guy’s 30th birthday by playing copious amounts of Championship Edition, as did Katie.

- Also marked the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strike Back’s release by giving Super Empire a spin via the Virtual Console. God, is anyone actually good at that game? I find it impossible to play. And on a related note, I simply cannot wait for this to come out.

- Here’s something quite tragic, yet at the same time heat-warming: pictures from an arcade in Kabul, Afghanistan

- Via one of the many Tumblrs I follow is this yet another excellent portrait of Samus…

- Plus, a gender-swapped Blanka

5/22/10

- Finally caught Cremaster 3, which as noted earlier I’m totally gaga for, and it was a thrill to be able to take the gf along for the ride. What else needs to be said, other than its Matthew Barney’s greatest achievement, and perhaps a landmark of cinema as a whole? The movie simply has it all; a reanimated corpse of Gary Gilmore, but as a woman, a destruction derby in the lobby of the Chrysler Building, zombie horses, a bumbling Irish bar man, Freemasons, horrific dentistry, Richard Serra as the chief architect of both King Solomon’s Temple and the Chrysler Building, a footless woman carving potatoes with her prosthetic feet, another chorus line, but this time the girls are dressed like sheep, Agnostic Front vs Murphy’s Law, and a pro wrestler as an old Irish god. Plus SO much more!

I could go on and on and on and would only be scratching the surface as to how mind-blowing it all is. Though of particular note is the set design and art direction, how it brilliantly references all the other Cremasters, the insane make-up job… again, I could go on. BTW, for Cremaster analysis and info that’s actually useful, I would have to recommend the Cremaster Fanatic blog, which is maintained by Eric Doeringer, who was actually a student of mine at my game design class at SVA so many years ago! One can also find some video game info on occasion, so long as it pertains to Matthew Barney, of course.

But back to pro wrestling…

- Afterwards we met up with Mooney in Chinatown for some cheap-o dumplings, and then it was off to the latest World of Unpredictable Wrestling event. But this time it was no Rumbo in Dumbo, but a show in Manhattan (entitled “Spring Bash” to be exact), at a local community center. Must admit, I was super apprehensive going in; as much as I love WUW, many of my favorite wrestlers have seemingly flown the coop, plus the past few installments have been more bad than good. Hence why I’ve skipped the past couple of them, despite the fact that it’s becoming increasingly clear that a few of the performers know who I am and have come to expect my reports. Though the increased ticket price of $20 was a deal breaker for Katie, and in my mind, they had better take it to the next level if I was going to keep coming back.

And while they have a ways to go before that next level is reached, and many of same issues from before are still present, overall, it was still one of the best WUW shows in a very long time! The change in venue, for starters, was much appreciated; as charming as Gleason’s Gym might be, the seating situation flat out sucks, the low ceiling is extremely prohibitive for the performers, and the place as a whole is a bit of an eye sore. Believe it or not, moving things to a community center gym was a massive step-up, though the promotion also took advantage of the new locale by adding a nice entrance way, lights, a smoke machine, even a large screen for wrestler entrances and camera feed of the action in the ring (too bad the camera itself was positioned in the worst place possible). Sure it was still all indie-riffic, but nevertheless a remarked improvement from before. The elaborate set-up was for a television pilot of some sort I believe, with multiple cameras all around.

As for the action in ring, it’s what one can generally expect; some truly excellent workers mixed with some truly awful ones, though the booking this time was mostly stronger than usual. The first match featured Reggaaedones in a three-way dance. Poor guys was saddled with two dudes who clearly were not on his level, which led to quite a few botched moves. The crappy 25-person battle royale that generally happens at the end of WUW shows was held early on, which was both good and bad. On the positive side, it got such nonsense out of the way; they usually occur before the main event, which are generally excellent, but because battle royales suck, WUW’s in particular, I usually can never make it to the end. And the reason why they blow is because it’s a chance to get every single inexperienced wrestler out there at once, to give them a little bit of ring time, and considering how even ones thrown by the WWE filled with experienced workers are still clusterfucks, due to so many bodies getting in the way, you get the drift…

… But the downside was how, right when it ended, half the audience (all of whom were friends of somebody in ring) all went home. Empty chairs for any sporting event do not look good on television. As for the match itself, highlights included a Baseball Fury and not just one but TWO guys dressed up as the Amish! Who were Cousin Cyrus and Cousin Simon to be precise, who had their own dedicated match shortly afterwards…

… They also had a third Amish person with them, who simply stood outside, in an enforcer-like capacity (and man was he tall). Unfortunately, the idea of Amish wrestlers sound much better on paper than in execution, since they were rather sloppy for the most part, though most of their deficiencies were made up via their very charming antics. One must also always keep in mind that most of the performers in WUW are still learning the ropes (it is a wrestling school after-all), so to be too judgmental is simply asinine. Though helping things greatly was their opponent Steven Person, aka Mike Quinn in the real world, whom I finally met before the show. Really nice guy! The dude is also seriously the most underrated worker in the entire outfit, and with him was a prot?g? of sorts, Kid Loco Dave Rivera, whom I’ve seen perform in shows past, but he really stood out here. Overall a very solid match, and if they keep at it, the Amish dudes are guaranteed to improve.

Next was Tristan Spade, whom I’ve always enjoyed, versus The Ultimate Security, whom I can only describe as looking like the younger brother of Baron Ambrosia. Generally, matches pitting two muscle-bound guys are slow and ponderous, but not here. Was very fast paced and featured excellent psychology. Immediately afterwards was another favorite of mine, “Big” Bill Young, the close to 7 foot tall cowboy who called me out as a blogger in the audience at the last show. His opponent was Paul C. Venezia, whose entire gimmick was that he was Italian, and was also super short. Another excellent match, easily the best of the night; the size discrepancy was used to great effect…

… Young also seems to get better with each outing, not just in the ring but with inciting the crowd (the guy gets killer heal heat with zero effort, which is not easy). I clearly remember when he first entered the ring, as part of “Cowboy” Bad Billy Walker’s stable many months ago, and was so nervous, but now he totally owns the ring. Oh, and I ended up chatting with Young after the show; as I was leaving the place with Mooney, I noticed a very tall guy pretending to type an imaginary keyboard and pointing at me, the clear sign that he hadn’t randomly pegged me as a blogger! In the end, a totally nice guy!

There were several other matches, all of them not so hot, so I won’t bother with them and will instead wrap the report up by talking about the main event, featuring Bad Billy Walker vs. the WUW champ, El Conquistador. With Musketeer long gone, Billy Walker is easily the top heel and was awesome as always. Meanwhile the new guy was super impressive, who was more than able to keep up with Walker’s technical prowess, so the two had an amazing match!

So yeah, I got my $20 worth. I’m actually bummed to hear that the next show is back in Brooklyn, especially since it’s also somewhat of a pain to make it out to Dumbo on the weekends. Hopefully the Manhattan show was enough of a success to warrant a return (the house was packed, so I’d have to assume it was).

- On the way back to the train, I noticed this on the street…

- Via Peter Berkman’s Tumblr comes Chris McKenzie! Sup Chris.

- And via someone else’s Tumblr, I forget whose (sorry)…

5/23/10

- Guess what came out yesterday? Super Mario Galaxy 2 of course! Haven’t take a huge chuck out of it yet, but thus far, I’m totally digging it. As expected, the Yoshi component is tons of fun, and I simply dig the level designs, which is similar to last time, but a tad bit crazier.

- Last night was also the series finale to Lost, which I didn’t watch. Now, I have plenty of friends who love the show, and I’m the last person on earth who should cast the first stone, given my questionable taste in stuff in general (Sky Girls anyone?), but I still stand firm with my belief that it’s epitome of boring white people’s television. Though I guess the thing that’s been the most annoying is how all these different outlets have been talking about Lost ad nauseam, ones that have nothing to do with television as a whole. Specifically video game news outlets… I’m talking about you Steve!

Then again, this statement from Dave via the forums sorta makes me want to checking it out: “I heard Jack has to fuck the island to save the show or something. Kind of wish I had watched this because it sounds like it was a laugh-a-minute.”

- Something NSFW #1 and something NSFW #2 (the last one is via Katie… thanks Katie!!!).

5/24/10 (i.e. earlier today)

- Art Styles: Light Trax has been released at last, and it’s just like Dot Stream, which is great news for fans of that game like myself. Would have been nice it it was a DSiWare release, since it just works better as a portable experience, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Regardless, everyone should definitely check out one of the many GBA classics that never made it out here, but most definitely should have.

- Via my very good pal Joe Simko sent passed these along….

… It’s just a small taste of his recently released book of illustrations called, aptly enough, The Sweet Rot! Be sure to pick up your copy today.

- One last thing: just became Facebook friends with Keita Takahashi! But here’s the most important detail: HE added me first!!! Alright, enough with the name dropping, I know.

K, that?s it for now; like I said, be sure to keep an eye out on the Attract Mode blog for some awesome stuff coming soon, as well as the Life Meter blog, which has been long overdue for an update from yours truly. Later!

  • Tiktaalik

    The whale sculpture in Vancouver is a new work by Douglas Coupland.

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