Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Times They Are A-Changin'

There's a really hysterical run-down of the Wired NextFest, which took place at Navy Pier last weekend over at ArsTechnica. I was thinking about going, but by the time Sunday rolled around, and there were about eight-million other things going on in Chicago that day, I decided to just wait for the future, rather than going to see a profoundly disturbing talking bust of sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick. Like the author of the ArsTechnica article, I have no idea why they went with Dick, who was, by every account I've read about the guy, mentally disturbed. Anyway, it's short, it's a fun read.

I bought a few DVD's at Hollywood Video last week: National Treasure, which ended up being pretty entertaining; House of Flying Daggers, which is visually stunning... or Zhang Ziyi is visually stunning, at least; and I bought Blade Trinity because... I have no idea why. Maybe it's a masochistic urge to get all of the superhero movies that come out on DVD. After all, some of them (Spider-Man, Hellboy, The Hulk -yes, I liked it, your opinion doesn't matter) are pretty good, and then there are these other ones, like Daredevil, Elektra (which there's no way in hell I'm going to get), and -in all likelihood- the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. I've been trying to watch Blade Trinity, I swear I have, but I just can't get through it, and I've decided that it's one of those profoundly bad movies that deserves a running commentary.

So I figure that's how I'm going to entertain myself once I figure out how I'm going to record the commentary, let alone get it up on the internet and get people to download it. And then there's the issue of how people would listen to the commentary while watching the DVD, which would all but require having an iPod or watching the DVD on the PC, muting the audio and running the commentary out of Winamp or something. It's a technical hurdle.

This week's iTunes purchase consists of: Two operas (Bach's "Magnificat" and Vivaldi's "Gloria"), which I picked up because they were only $5.99 for the pair; "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, because (no, seriously) I'm a sucker for a catchy rap song; "I Want You Bad" by the Offspring, which is also tremendously catchy, and it sounds a lot like something else, but I can't figure out what; and "The Times They Are A-Changin'" by Bob Dylan, because ... how can you not?

AIM: therbmcc71

Friday, June 24, 2005

Liberi Fatali

It's going to be a long one today, kids, so grab that Mountain Dew, kick back a couple of Advil and get ready for me to flip the bird to a Democrat.

First, a bit of background on the matter, courtesy of the Associated Press:

(NY-AP) June 20, 2005 - Senator Charles Schumer is trying to keep a new video game from making it to store shelves and homes in the US.

The New York Democrat says the objective of the game called "25 to life" is to shoot police officers, and use civilians as human shields. He says the game is so gruesome that it lowers common decency.

Schumer is asking stores not to stock the game and for PlayStation manufacturer Sony and X-Box maker Microsoft to cancel their licensing agreements with the British company that makes it. However, teen-agers who are most likely to play the game say they are anxiously waiting its arrival.

That he would ask retailers to not stock the game isn't shocking for your average member of Congress, but Schumer's a Democrat. Now, a heaping spoonful of bullshit like this I can expect from Republicans, but this guy should get fucking disowned by the (read: my) party for being such a monkey-fuck. I mean, the guy's not even up for re-election until 2010, so it's not like he's trying to get free publicity for a campaign or anything. He's just being a run-of-the-mill Capitol Hill fucktard

That said, in one of my moments of great vengeance and furious anger, I decided to see what his site had to say about it. I found the press release to be patently offensive (primarily in its stupidity), and so here you have the annotated Redux version of the press release, which I previously put up in the videogames forum at thatsjustnotright. Enjoy.


Senator Displays Gruesome Graphics from Game, “25 to Life,” Where Players [insert verb here] to Shoot Police, Use Civilians as Human Shields [This strategy guide brought to you by People for Schumer]

Senator Calls on Sony, the Maker of PlayStation and Microsoft the Maker of XBOX to End Game Licensing Agreements with Game Manufacturer [They were already considering this after the tragedy that was the last Tomb Raider game]

Schumer Stands with Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan, and Rose Nemorin, Widow of Detective James Nemorin, Who Was Killed in the Line of Duty in 2003. [Almost Every Word in That Sentence was Capitalized]

As New York Police risk their lives everyday protecting the city’s residents, today, U.S, Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed a not-yet-released video game [which neither he, nor his staff, has ever played] that will allow players to shoot police, use civilians as human shields and customize characters in gang colors. [Most offensive to the conservatives who wish to see this game banned is the fact that the main character is black] Schumer today called on New York retailers and distributors not to stock the game or sell it. [Although, simply not stocking it would serve the same purpose] The Senator also called on Microsoft (the manufacturer of XBOX) and Sony (the manufacturer of PlayStation) to terminate their licensing agreements with Eidos, the maker of the new video game. [Just in case you missed that part two paragraphs ago; Schumer's office is no stranger to redundancy]

“Little Johnny should be learning how to read, not how to kill cops,” Schumer said. [Schumer then launched into a series of 'Dirty Johnny' jokes and said, "This is what Little Johnny will become if he plays this game] “The bottom line is that games that are aimed and marketed at kids shouldn’t desensitize them to death and destruction.” [Remember the 'firebomb the gymnasium' level in the That's So Raven game for the GBA?]

In a string of violent video games that many have claimed lower the common denominator of decency [Though none so much as three hours of C-SPAN], such as Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt, the upcoming 25 To Life has violent and gruesome graphics that make it one of the worst [The violent and gruesome graphics set it apart from GTA and Manhunt, which were cartoony and featured flowers and bunnies]. The game is set in a grit-caked inner city neighborhood [It's grit-caked because of an explosion at the local corn-processing plant] and sets gang members against police and sends them on a mission to fight their way through the streets, killing whatever gets in the way. [Or, you can play as the police, but we're not going to talk about that, because praising any part of this game would erode our argument] In choosing a character the player has a variety of customization options including choosing weapons and picking gang colors. [Schumer's office has staked out the colors purple and green, and they'll bust a cap in the ass of anybody who tries to steal 'em]

The video game goes out of its way to glorify a life of crime, portraying its lead character, Andre "Freeze" Francis [The nickname "Babycakes" didn't test well], as a "good-hearted drug dealer" [Drug-dealers buy Mother's Day flowers, too] who reverts to a world of violence when his friend double crosses him. Not only is "Freeze" depicted as a hero, as he attempts to save his son from a similar fate by razing his hometown with one of the forty weapons (guns, bats, etc) available to him. [Letting the main character's son die would be far more preferable to Senator Schumer's office] The justice system is portrayed as a game to be played. [Insert your favorite comment here about celebrity trials, my favorite being Robert Blake's alibi: "She was shot to death while I went back into the restaurant to get my gun."]

Perhaps most egregiously, the police are both vilified and brutalized [In this weekend's press-release: Rodney King finally gets closure]. Gang members are in constant gun fights with police, and the game includes detailed illustrations of gun shot wounds, blood and flying bullets. [And lots of black people; can't have Little Johnny exposed to that.]

This glorification of crime and cop killing is worse yet when it is clearly packaged to attract a younger demographic with artists such as DMX, Tupac, and Xzibit featured on the soundtrack [Little Johnny wasn't even fucking alive when Tupac was killed], and an interactive website available to anyone willing to claim they are over the age of seventeen. [Unbeknownst to Senator Schumer, Little Johnny has a fake-ID and is one of Schumer's drinking buddies] The website can be found at www.25tolife.com [The Senator provides the game's website, but makes no mention of his own typo-plagued site, found here]

To combat this menace [Because we all know that videogames need to be labeled with scary words, just like the 'scourge' of terrorism], today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on New York retailers and distributors [Spelled correctly this time] to opt out of stocking and selling the game once it is released. Schumer also called on Sony and Microsoft to terminate their licensing agreements with Eidos, the manufacturer of “25 to Life.” [Again, big fans of redundancy]

“There is nowhere that the value of the police force is felt more strongly than here in New York [Tell that to Rodney King], and to sell a video game that denigrates their value is simply unacceptable,” Schumer said [Unfortunately, there are no videogames that denigrate New York junior-Senators]. “You certainly don’t need a degree in criminal justice to understand that when you make sport of behavior that is dangerous and destructive you reinforce it. The last thing we need here in New York is to reinforce a destructive culture of violence and disrespect for the law.” ["It's bad enough that our entire city reeks of urine," he added. "Thankfully, they don't have the technology to expose Little Johnny to that yet."]

“This is not a game to the men and women in our police services [Actually, meter-maid Janet Watts gets a kick out of the whole thing], but is a dangerous reality to those who put their lives on the line each day combating [Another misspelling; this guy's communications director needs to get slapped] gang members and the guns and drugs that they peddle [Doesn't the word "peddle" conjure images of a guy pushing an ice cream cart? You know, he's wearing the little paper hat and the bow-tie... "Hey, Johnny, you want your usual hit of crank today?"]. As long as there is a profit to be made, these games will continue to be targeted to our communities. I am calling upon manufacturers and retailers to show some sensitivity to those who have fallen in the line of duty and stop producing and selling these obscene games,” said Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan, Jr. [The district attorney clearly has no grasp of the legal definition of 'obscenity,' which I have added at the bottom of this post]

Video game sales reached $10 billion in 2004, and unit sales were up by 4% from the previous year. [Senator Schumer never believed in the, "It's the Economy, Stupid!" argument] Of the top 10 selling video game titles for 2004 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a game featuring gun violence, vehicular homicide, and flagrant sexual behavior, was the best seller. [Sixth-ranked Pokemon Fire Red is next in Senator Schumer's crosshairs]

Senator Schumer stood with Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan [Again, knows nothing about obscenity]; Rose Nemorin, widow of Detective James Nemorin who was shot and killed while on duty in 2003; Patrick Lynch, President of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association and Michael Palladino, President of the Detective’s Endowment Association [He showed up drunk and displayed for the press how 'endowed' he really was].
Now. About obscenity:
The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be:
  1. whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, Kois v. Wisconsin, supra, at 230, quoting Roth v. United States, supra, at 489;
  2. whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and
  3. whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."
Note that part a does employ community standards. However, all three parts must be met for a work to be deemed obscene, and part c, as the Court has held elsewhere, is a national threshold, not a community test.

Essentially, if the game has even the slightest bit of a plot, that likely qualifies as serious artistic value. Sure, it's not Starry Night, but if everything had to be Starry Night, there would be nothing in our movie theaters; not that there's anything really worth seeing right now.

My major questions are:
  • How does a guy like this get to be a member of my political party?
  • Can someone please forcibly remove him?
    • Do we have a party bouncer?
      • Is it Howard Dean?
        • If not, would the current bouncer run the DNC better than Dean has been doing?
    • Can we trade Senator Schumer to the Republicans for a player to be named later?
  • When can I stop being a social outcast for no longer blindly accepting the sense of martyrdom that New York so seems to enjoy trotting around?
Seriously. This guy's communications director needs to get slapped around if it's this easy to make fun of the senator's press releases. I mean, I know senators have to have their own causes, but this is a fight Senator Schumer isn't going to win, and the Democrats really don't need this idiot running around telling people not to buy the game, which only increases public interest in the game, and the entire party suffers because Schumer couldn't get anyone to take up his crusade.

It's idiots like this who banned Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451, which happens to be a book about banning books! If Senator Schumer wants Little Johnny to read, maybe the senator should spend more time considering how to execute that plan, and less time in his pipe-dream, thinking he's got the respect it would take to get major retailers to jump on his bandwagon.

AIM: therbmcc71

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Best of You

I still have no muse. Yes, I'm still accepting applications. No, you probably won't get the job for whatever reasons I entailed a post or two ago. All of the girls in my life that are arm's-length or better from me seem to be dating guys or married, and most of the time I'm the last to know any of this. And, of course, being single is one of the main candidacy-factors in being my muse-of-the-day. It's like, there are none; I can't even compile a short-list.

Although Yoda did speak to me in a wision (of wery beautiful women in willages), and he said to me, "No, there is another."

My new computer is pretty nifty. It's an Athlon64 3000+ with a gigabyte of RAM and a GeForce 6600GT. It's not state of the art, but that would have cost me about another thousand dollars for an extra twenty-five percent on the performance. For that price, I could have bought a Mac. Instead, I settled for this, and it marks the first time that I've ever built a computer and it actually worked the first time I turned it on. I also bought the only computer case the store had that didn't have a window or neon lights, because I think that looking at computer parts is about as exciting as watching manatees fuck.

See what I mean?

My parents are going away in a few days. They'll be gone for over a week, leaving me alone in the house, which I'd planned to convert into a den of profoundly carnal sins, complete with the classic blinking Christmas lights in June that has adorned bachelor pads since the beginning of time, in some technological form or another. Instead, since there are no more single women, it's pretty much going to be night after night of me strumming my guitar. Take that literally or figuratively, whichever makes you more comfortable, but I should let you know that I do indeed have a guitar that I strum fairly regularly; often while I'm talking to people on AIM. Again, whichever makes you more comfortable.

In music news, Pink Floyd is playing at Live 8 on July 2. That Pink Floyd is playing at all is impressive enough, but this is Pink Floyd comprised of David Gilmour, Rick Wright, Nick Mason and Roger Waters, who hasn't been part of the band since The Final Cut, back in 1983. As a side-note, while Pink Floyd didn't play Live-Aid back in 1985, David Gilmour was indeed onstage, playing guitar for Bryan fucking Ferry of Roxy Music fame; lord only knows why.

In movie news, Roger Ebert gave the new Batman film a four-star rating, thus signaling the beginning of the end of the world. Who knows, maybe my "den of carnal sin" plan will work out after all, because that one's lumped into the signs of the apocalypse somewhere after, "President Bush increases funding to Africa, and actually signs the fucking check."

Finally, in television news, Tom Cruise is getting crazier by the day, nearing the point where Michael Jackson is going to look over and go, "What the fuck is with that guy?"

AIM: therbmcc71

Monday, June 06, 2005

Someday I'll Be Saturday Night

I've found that my writing has been lacking, of late. And, I don't mean that exclusively in the sense that I haven't been updating much. My writing has absolutely gone to hell in terms of quality, and I spent a good week trying to figure out why that is. I figured out, a night or two ago, that I've lost my muse. Auditions will be held this Thursday from 2-7 PM.

See, there's this necessity that I have to be able to delude myself into thinking that I've got some kind of chance with a girl, if I could just come up with one thing that's so completely, utterly, insanely stunning that she would swoon (and I would, of course, have to heroically catch her) and be mine. Yes, it's merely an updated version of the caveman clubbing a woman and dragging her back to his cave, although I think the caveman's method is a lot less tricky.

It's like having a light at the end of the tunnel; that there's only one person in the entire world that you have to impress, beyond all others, and I don't have that anymore. Lord knows it's a rare occasion that my writing impresses myself. So this is just a token post to let my three readers know why it is that I haven't been posting, because anything less than exceptional is a waste of my time.

AIM: therbmcc71