Tuesday, March 24, 2009

3/24/09

Just a quick post today as I'm trying to work through a backlog of game emails...

I like the idea of podcasts more than the actual listening to of podcasts. I know Gene and Art both follow a number of them. I have a hard time because I can't listen to them and do anything else-- even clean. There's something about voices talking without the pictures that makes me have to pay more attention. Sometimes I even turn off NPR when I'm driving if the conversation gets too dense. OOH I can play a TV show or movie and work at the same time. So I only a have a couple of podcasts that I've followed with any regularity (probably good for my productivity).

One of those I've mentioned to a couple of people before, the Penny Arcade podcast. They do it infrequently and usually mention it later on the news pages of a particular comic. I think they also have them listed somewhere in their forums. They provide an amazing behind-the-scene look at the creative process-- especially the trickiness of a collaborative approach. They also spin off and BS about various things. Really worth listening to.

There are a couple of interesting online sites for geekdom worthing checking out if you want to loose a few hours (or more). Fantasy Magazine has a significant and interesting online presence. They cover fiction and non-fiction. The other, which I bet most of you know, is The Escapist Magazine which in addition to having articles, has some really funny video segments-- my favorites of those:

Zero Punctuation: you've probably seen him mentioned around the “Interwebs” since he has a significant following. Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw takes his acerbic Australian wit and applies it to various video games. He's bitter and makes me laugh. Off-color humor combined with a stark and consistent design.

Unskippable: Two guys take the sometimes interminable cut-scenes from various video games and give them the MST3K treatment. It's a brilliant concept and they handle it pretty well-- one of the two has a weaker voice, but generally I laugh at them. Especially good if you've actually played the game in question.

Unforgotten Realms: Worth watching from the beginning. The narrative of a DnD-like game being played by two people in which both play characters and one actually runs the game. It has some great meta-commentary on shared narratives when both players end up narrating the events. Really funny at times. The level of humor can best be summed up by the fact that one of the character's is named Sir Schmoopy of Awesometon (he's a dual nunchuck wielding sorceror).

There Will Be Brawl: Probably only for Nintendo-lovers-- a strangely dark and twisted noir take on Super Smash Brothers. Live action done with minimal sets and some really creative design. Very, very dark however-- Kirby's a Hannibal Lecter character in it.

You can find all these on their video page.

Television
Finally sat down and watched most of Dollhouse. Episode Six, as promised does finally move the narrative forward and present real implications about what is going on. I'm still on the fence about this, but if the next couple of episodes can follow through on what they set up here I'd be interested.

Watched the first episode of Castle (ABC) online. Pretty much the only reason I'd watch this would be the presence of Nathan Fillion. It grates on me- they've got him too smarmy early on. I'll be interested to see if they dial that down a notch in the second episode or on. I'll certainly seen them do that before-- fairly radical shifts between the pilot and the rest of the series. It's a conventional crime series, but needs to bring more funny.

ABC also has Better Off Ted which is a comedy about a person working in a giant research company with all the ethics of Umbrella Corporation. They had me in the opening when the lead character's asked to weaponize a pumpkin. I like the characters and the actors-- we'll see if it actually survives.

Finally I've been catching up a little with The Venture Brothers Season Three online. I've seen probably half the episodes and I'm a little disappointed-- they decided to push the drama button and seem to have gotten too absorbed in their own backstory. I always thought they handled that better when it was tangential to the funny stuff. I'll be curious to see how it holds up when seen in sequence.