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xii October 12, 2009

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, onanistic bullshit, pseudo-informative bullshit.
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I am staring up at the juggernaut glaciers of the Paramina Rift, a sole speck of warmth in a desert of ice. Snow scourges my face; fog scythes the booming peaks from view. Ice drowns the turbid river. I look around; all is time, everlasting. The cliffs stare us down. Move on, they say

but I am caught in the frigid beauty that spreads before me, all particles and polygons. A last tribute to a dying platform, the ephemeral dreams of a forsaken machine. Under heaven, slipping across hell, I stare down the last sullen triangle of light between the ravine walls. I hear it, an eerie sad song of the done.

The wolves are wailing. The dead come.


love in the time of gonorrhoea July 18, 2009

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, things that are not quite things we know, verbiage clusterfuck.
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Everybody is reading that book about the pickup artist, Neil Strauss.

More than a mack textbook, it is a memoir, a study of the ins and outs of the social condition. The man who wrote it wrote also for the New York Times. Make of that what you will.

The book’s prevailing mantra is: Attraction is not a choice, and you and I and we can have everyone via hamfisted palmistry, spoon bending and ESP.

It’s not too hard to see why people buy into the mystique. We pretend to be a collection of on/off switches, unanalogue, discrete.

What a beautiful conceit, that you can reduce seduction into a set of techniques that will guarantee you entry into anyone in the world. Are we waves and tremors, or sticks and holes? There is nothing absolute about being human, about neocortical impulses that feed our hearts to head.

There is nothing human in the objectification of an adversary; the gaudy prizes of bars and clubs are just ticks on a list, 8s, 9s, 10s, 11s. The more you play the game,  the more you realise the game means nothing. Strauss has no small dose of pity and revulsion for the creepers trapped in their own webs, not least himself. These are some of the unhappiest men you’ll meet.

Isn’t it strange, that certain truisms apply to all fields? Those who blindly follow preset routes rarely achieve greatness; he who only learns by rote never grasps the whole.

Seduction, one supposes, is all very well. Then comes a point where one thinks hard and long of love, in the time of gonorrhoea.

Not much has changed since we sat in school and wondered why some lead, and others follow. We make our way through life and find the game never changes; we want what we are denied.

To those who believe we can bypass the random variance of the human heart, note this and note it well: in the end, the only woman who stole Strauss’s heart was the one he could not snare with strings of theory. He played the game. She played him better.

Along Burrard after dinner, I watched a girl pose for a man, silhouetted by the splash of fountain spray. He said something that made her laugh; in the binary light of the camera, his smile seemed real. He blushed, or the red focus stung his skin. I didn’t know.

It’s for all of us to turn things over and around. The oldest friend comes out with the newest things; maybe we’re too fast to fix an image in our heads. Now I understand Cubism as never before; I see Picasso struggling, presented with the problem of presenting all sides all at once.

Irrational people do rational things, rational people do irrational things. All people are unknown quantities, now and forever.

Sitting in the semi-dark, bathed in the soft penumbra of the screen, I close the game and shut my eyes. I chase the awkward beauty that only exists when we race toward a goal, unscripted, unfettered, unaware.

the black swan of nanowrimo October 14, 2008

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, pseudo-informative bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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The Canadian government finally returned the money it owed me from the time I spent being joyfully-unemployed last year, so I decided to blow some of it on Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s idiosyncratic Black Swan.

Very briefly, Taleb is an iconoclast ex-quant (and full time wag) who does things like buy options geared towards the inevitability of economic disaster, accepting constant losses while waiting for crashes to send his option values skyrocketing.  

Commonsense dictates we go for small, constant gains when we invest, yet opens us up to getting screwed by unpredictable economic failure. For Taleb, the world has been shaped by these acts of random chance, acts that have a minute chance of occurring and carry huge impact, acts that we claim are inevitable after the fact and yet never plan for.

We carry on with life because some things are completely out of our ability to predict. You can’t bank on what they’ll be, you can only bank on the probability that they will happen. Hot from Taleb comes a moniker for events of this ilk: black swans. I won’t get into the details, because far better minds have written more informative material on him. Eristics aside, his viewpoint radiates some uncommon sense. Sometimes it’s refreshing to hear someone say, “I don’t know.”

I’m reminded of the Time article (this one made it to Time’s 85 year anniversary compendium) on Deep Blue, the chess computer that beat Kasparov:

What is Deep Blue’s secret? Grand master Yasser Seirawan put it most succinctly: “The machine has no fear.” He did not just mean the obvious, that silicon cannot quake. He meant something deeper: because of its fantastic capacity to see all possible combinations some distance into the future, the machine, once it determines that its own position is safe, can take the kind of attacking chances no human would. The omniscient have no fear.

In Game 1, Blue took what grand master Robert Byrne called “crazy chances.” On-site expert commentators labeled one move “insane.” It wasn’t. It was exactly right.

Here’s what happened. Late in the game, Blue’s king was under savage attack by Kasparov. Any human player under such assault by a world champion would be staring at his own king trying to figure out how to get away. Instead, Blue ignored the threat and quite nonchalantly went hunting for lowly pawns at the other end of the board. In fact, at the point of maximum peril, Blue expended two moves–many have died giving Kasparov even one–to snap one pawn. It was as if, at Gettysburg, General Meade had sent his soldiers out for a bit of apple picking moments before Pickett’s charge because he had calculated that they could get back to their positions with a half-second to spare.

In humans, that is called sangfroid. And if you don’t have any sang, you can be very froid. But then again if Meade had known absolutely–by calculating the precise trajectories of all the bullets and all the bayonets and all the cannons in Pickett’s division–the time of arrival of the enemy, he could indeed, without fear, have ordered his men to pick apples.

Which is exactly what Deep Blue did. It had calculated every possible combination of Kasparov’s available moves and determined with absolute certainty that it could return from its pawn-picking expedition and destroy Kasparov exactly one move before Kasparov could destroy it. Which it did.

Kasparov himself said that with Deep Blue, quantity had become quality.

Taleb repudiates the power of human inference; the computer is incapable of it. Sometimes you have to overthrow human frailty to succeed. Is that good, or bad?

Everyone’s iPhone is Wikipedia-enabled. The showboat of knowledge sails on, leaving us only the lifeline of connective insight.

November is coming up, and that means NaNoWriMo is here again. 50000 words for the month of November, the amount that mutates novella into novel. I did not know that Brave New World contains a mere 50000 words of blazing beauty.

1,666⅔ words per day, for thirty days. If you don’t make the effort, you never get the chance to be a black swan.

That, combined with spending enough time on my guitar to not screw up someone’s wedding ceremony, is going to be a hell of a lot of doing. But when people are doing this, what excuse do I have? Let’s go learn from failure.

Apparently it takes a minimum of 10000 hours to become world-class at anything, so I’d better get cracking.

I had a clump of songs in major keys on my playlist zoning together whilst I was writing this; all background noise, until a minor key popped out and my focus was jerked right there.

Our random lives boil down to self-imposed decisions. Unpredictability may be the new god, but it doesn’t mean we can’t choose which dice he throws.


I’ve spent a lot of energy and many years trying to learn a very few basic things, which may turn out to be mostly crude opinions anyway. There’s so little in the world we can be sure of, and maybe it’s the lack, that flaw or deficiency, if you will, that drives our strongest compulsions.”

Ben Fountain

rune factory (NDS) October 20, 2007

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, onanistic bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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My stomach consumed itself on the third day, right as I was coming up to Toytown.

I collapsed against the gates, and when I opened my eyes, a girl said; “Would you like my hoe?”

She said, “I think you look like a farmer.”

She told me her name was Mist, and that she thought I had it in me to do great things with soil and loam. She told me there was a spare hut I could stay in.

She gave me the hoe.

On the way to the hut she’d so kindly pointed out, I saw a young man toiling on the farm, skin beaded with sweat, breath heaving with exhaustion. He was chopping up a stump with an axe. His face was numb with exertion.

“Hey,” I said. 

“Rune,” he said. “Call me Rune.”

“Rune,” I said. “What do you do?”

“Once a day, I brush my animals,” he said, not quite meeting my eyes. “To each one I go. Hi-de-ho. I run my brush over their hides, their scales, their radiant hair.”

He paused; a flush peeped through his skin. His voice swelled and scurried on. 

“I raise my axe, three times per stump. It’s taken me a while, but I’m just a few bits of wood away from 2000. I don’t care if I have to start going down to the dungeons to get more wood, I can’t wait. I’m so close. I’ll have a bigger house, soon. And then Mist…” 

All he wants to do is chop a lot of wood and make a lot of money so he can finally buy that massive house he’s always wanted; the house that will let him move in the double bed he’s been lusting after for months; the bed that will let him move in the woman he’s been lusting after. For months. He’s been chopping wood for months.

You can’t get a real kitchen unless you’ve got a big house. You can’t get a real bed unless you’ve got a big house. You can’t get that girl who looks at you all special. It don’t matter if her lovemeter is maxed, she’s just another capitalist pig. Better start wood chucking, chuck.

Rune said he was waiting for the stumps to appear in his field again, overnight. With the dew and the strange glowing spheres that let him stay up later than any man I’d ever known. I figured if I wanted some monsters of my own to brush I’d damn well better get back to my own farm. Lord knows I could feel the axe handle in my hands already; Lord knows my palms were imprinted on the grainy wood. Lord knows I’d be chopping wood for the next few months.

“How about you?” he asked, scratching his chin.

I shrugged. “I’m just looking,” I said. “For a place to stay. For a while. Until I find something else.”

Next morning I talked to Mist again, trying to figure out why Rune liked her so goddamn much. 

“Ha ha ha!” she said, her face crinkled up into a smile. “Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah.” 

I don’t know. To each his own. I wandered around the town, talking to the townsfolk, all of whom were politely repetitive. I met a girl out by the pier; she was hot, in a ninja kind of way. I got the feeling she really liked fish; she said, “I love fish.”

I tilled some land, sowed some seeds, got really tired, went to bed, woke up, got a cave pass from the mayor. I went to the dungeons. I smashed some monsters in the face with my hoe. I went to bed again. I woke up. I went to the farm.

I saw Mist standing in the garden again, and wafted a hello over to her.

“Ha ha ha!” she said, her face crinkled up into a smile. “Blah blah blah, blah blah, blah blah.” 

I asked Rune about it, and he just shrugged. He wasn’t one for big talk, either. He just did his thing, and he did it well. Still, he said, it was frustrating that Mist said the same thing every morning when he greeted her. Hey, you can’t rationalise love.

“You try it,” he said. “You try talking to the rest of them. It’s creepy, it’s unsettling. But I love her. I want to marry her, man.” 

I listened to Rune. I talked to the rest of the townspeople. They didn’t say much; they never said much. I got into a routine with them, and we became closer, although we never really spoke. People talk small talk, sometimes minute talk, and this talk was infinitesimal talk.

The ninja-ish girl liked me, because I fished for a fish, and then I gave her a fish.

“I love fish. You are awesome,” she told me.

I gave her another fish.

“I love fish. You are awesome.”

It kind of went on like this for days, and then I stopped seeing her. It just wasn’t working out. I stopped talking to the townspeople, too. I stopped farming. I just went to the dungeons, chopped wood, mined for gems and metal, and bought myself a fridge. I bought a kitchen. I learned how to bake a cake. Life went on.

When I came back to the farm a few months later, Rune’s house was larger. Bigger. Better. I saw the silhouette of a woman through the foggy window.

Rune was standing by the gate, watching me.

“How are things?” I asked, watching him.

He met my gaze. He let his shoulders raise, briefly. He met my gaze, through the mist.

Inside, the woman, barely a girl, moved back and forth, dusting down the sheets, pottering to the stove.

What was there to tell him? He had it, his dream right there in his hands. Tomorrow he’d be brushing his animals, one by one, scraping hearts from their frowning faces. He’d gotten to the stage where they loved him just enough to water almost all his plot, but not quite. He’d said it gave him a little sense of purpose, watching the water stain those last three squares. Knowing that it, as so much else in his world, was ephemeral. That he’d be there again the next day, filling in a blank slate.

I looked at his eyes — void as stars! — and bade him good night. He didn’t reply. We didn’t talk. It was the talk that came after infinitesimal talk; null talk. As I was walking home, I saw him as he’d been; bright eyes sparking as he talked about his dreams and hopes.

It was a week later that I moved out, just a hundred logs short of 2000. Spring was in season, the frigid morning air lapping at my neck as I meandered through the drowsy town, past my droning friends and loves, past Rune’s tidy farm. He stood in the middle of his plot, surrounded by a host of glowing orbs, just standing, staring.

I waved to him, but he didn’t see, and after a moment I began to walk away, down the road and out of Toytown, maybe to go home, knowing I wouldn’t be back.



Rune Factory has rather attractive graphics, but I got bored of it after four days and haven’t picked it up since. It is deeper than the other Harvest Moon games in that I stopped playing those after a cumulative total of four minutes. The townspeople have nothing interesting to say and do not even convey the illusion of having something interesting and possibly humorous to say, unlike, say, the idiot-looking animals in Animal Crossing: Wild World.

The dungeons, new to the Harvest Moon series, are reasonably entertaining and even slightly nethackish in that they respawn every time you go back into them and you feel slightly paranoid about dying. Which is a rare feeling to have in a modern game.

The chopping wood bullshit was probably the biggest factor that led to my giving up, as even with a megapowered axe it was still the most annoying and tedious task you could be expected to do six million times for fun. It is even more annoying than weeding in AC:WW. It’s a chore, but does it have to be so much like actual work?

Smashing monsters in the face with a hoe was moderately enchanting, though. For a time.

farcical review bullshit: final fantasy VII: crisis core is……… October 8, 2007

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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1.5/5 if you don’t already feel involved in the FF7 universe, 3.5 if you do.

Are you and the Final Fantasy VII universe involved? Do you like cutscenes? Really? You’ll probably like this game. Be warned; this is not a happy game.

The looping track on the official website is a wistful mix of yearning strings and pop beat that perfectly encapsulates the overall mood of Crisis Core. Here’s a shocker. Our hero Zack is actually likeable. He does his best to remain upbeat and positive despite all the nastynasty that’s about to happen to him. It’s like a big countdown to a whole lotta angst, except for a change our alter ego isn’t being a whiny bitch.

The game looks great. Kind of Kingdom Hearts-ish, actually. The pacing is mostly good, although the story’s hokey at times and most of the new characters feel rather mashed-in, including an utterly loopy antagonist named Genesis, who has a penchant for reciting lines from his favourite play and throwing apples at people. Still, it drags you along to the next stunning cutscene, to the next plot point, to find out what was going on behind the scenes. Then things get really weird and Zack starts to wish things would just start making sense. Maybe, like me, you’ll become Zack for a while, hoping a positive attitude will make everything all right, knowing deep down you’ll never succeed.

It’s kind of refreshing, unlike the gameplay. 

Maybe you like playing safe, simple games; maybe your idea of the perfect game is one where you just have to hit attack and occasionally heal, or cast a magic spell. Mine isn’t. I like the concept of an action remix of VII.  See, Crisis Core kind of pretends it’s an action game, but maybe you won’t like because it’s not safe enough; maybe you won’t like it because it’s not dangerous enough.

The game doesn’t break free from the mould VII cast; you run around, fight battles, get story. It’s different in the details. They polished the edge off the slick but shapeless mass that’s the ubiquitous combat system. What we get is VII‘s active time battle system playing groupie to Devil May Cry, popping out this hybrid horror on her back in a ditch.

In combat, you cycle through attack, materia and items with L and R. Circle activates the command you pick; press it in standard attack mode and Zack will run forward and hit the nearest opponent. It’s not the most rewarding of moves. Sometimes you’ll dodge, mostly you’ll be hitting circle over and over again, limited by the timing of the slash animation, broken by the automation of the system. That’s your action button right there. No jumping, no combos. No more linking materia together like you could in VII, just tonnes and tonnes of limit breaks.

In previous FF incarnations, we were rewarded with special attacks for powering up our limit break bars, maybe by taking hits, or going into low health mode. Something reasonable, anyway.

The limit break mode in Crisis Core is completely random.

On the top left of the screen, three dials spin constantly. Occasionally they expand, fill the screen, and eventually come to a stop, all on their own. The game rolls up special moves and summons for you; some are cute, a pat on the back for following the FF franchise.

You’ve got cutscenes in your combat.

Crisis Core dismisses your input as a player of games; doesn’t trust you to hit a button or let you pretend you’re calling a bunch of slots. Shouldn’t videogames be an interactive experience? Is this really what people want?

I run through endlessly bland missions, limit breaks interrupting me every quarter-minute. I find a curse ring. It deactivates the slots. Jackpot! Then I remember. The only way to level up is via the limit BS. I consider cursing myself anyway.

I start wall-hugging to avoid the random combat. A box bumps Zack out into dangerous ground, into a chain of irritating random encounters that buffet him around. We end up further back than we were. The dials spin.

Onward ho.

Sometimes the camera rotates 360 degrees, mostly it won’t. It’s like what they must have done to the designers; blinkered their vision. You have to wonder; why risk making these spin-offs different at all, if what they really wanted was to play it safe?

Zack is waiting. I soldier on. 

You can access missions from any save point, short missions that are quite perfect for the portable nature of the PSP. Not a bad idea. Squeenix could have created a variety of mission types that would have been interesting and different and maybe even fun to play through, but no; you’ll be doing the same thing repeatedly — run around, be harassed by random enemies, find treasure, kill the boss.

For over two years, their designers had to have been doing something while their hi-res art team was knocking out slick hyperpoly renders. It’s as though they aspired to be different and got scared halfway. By what? By whom? Who were they trying to please? Ain’t nobody getting offa this train.

VII‘s lovingly pre-rendered Midgar, now there was a city with soul, a Dickensian sprawl of misery and squalor. With a lot of cleverly-lit doors you could investigate if you chose to. Hell, if you wanted you could steal 5 gil from a child’s set of drawers as he slept, and come back later to watch him crying, and damned if it didn’t make you feel a little bit like a prick.

In comparison Core feels kind of dead. Yeah, VII‘s cutscenes look downright shonky in comparison, but VII‘s a richer experience by far. It’s rough around the edges, but the roughness makes it pretty sharp in spots. Ten years down the line, we’re at the opposite situation; we’ve got all this power and we’re not using it right. Time to disembark.

You, you doubt me, you who have yet to run through a bunch of square rooms that look exactly the same. You who have yet to run through these rooms seven million times.

Very inspired level design. And yet: I actually like the game despite all the bullshit you have endure to get through it.

Bursting through blandness, moments of beauty surface; Zack runs past the Junon nuclear sunrise, down the gleaming Shinra Building stairs, through the eerie Nibelheim gloom and it’s nostalgic, a throwforward to times that get only darker. It’s a nod to you who played VII when you see familiar faces, old but young. Still, there’s always this ominous sense of dread, this looming certainty that everything’s going to go up shit creek.

It’s the fascinating thing about this game; there’s no hope, it doesn’t matter what you do, yet Zack’s still trying. He doesn’t know. We’re drawn to tragedy, and stuck in a game like this, Zack’s tale is replete with it. His story is a black hole of misery, and he beckoned to me; fell to his knees and begged keep playing.

So I did.

Square had pretty grand ambitions, tossing up the formula of Final Fantasy VII and trying to shake out something new. It’s hard not to think they should either have played it completely safe, or gone all out. It’s a little sad, thinking about what could have been.

It’s quite possible you’ll like Crisis Core. It’s a cakewalk down memory lane, ends quite tidily, if depressingly, comes full circle and wraps beautifully into the original game. Just as you knew it would. Play it for Zack’s sake, play it for him; like the gameplay, he never had a chance.

colors: in monochrome September 13, 2007

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit.
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Did you know the DS has a pressure-sensitive screen? 

Look, Colors.

This kind of freeform gaming is exactly what we need; a step towards the future, a symbol of our own personal quests towards a brighter and better future. With more colours. Which is exactly why this review should be in monochrome, lest we forget what colours do for us.

So the thing about the world’s current hypnotised obsession with 3D graphics is that it’s losing a lot of the spark that existed in the day of the 2D world, when polygons were just a novelty that looked mostly like concentrated ass (surely you remember how asstastic Alone in the Dark looked). Now we’ve reached the depressing stage where 2D’s just a novelty.

You know, a good dose of 2D is exactly what we need from time to time, even if only to remind ourselves that we live in a world that’s largely three-dimensional; do you think that maybe, just maybe, we don’t need this emulated in every single game we pick up?

The funniest thing is; my income relates directly to our current sickly obsession with 3D art. Or should I say — my erstwhile income?

I certainly don’t mind when 3D’s done well (let me introduce you to a close personal friend of mine; the King of All Cosmos; his sense of style is ineffable and effortless; his world is the perfect incarnation of a 3D world that’s so perfectly conceived it’s almost 2D), but lately it seems we’re getting to the point where all we’re doing is going through the motions of a technical exercise; more polygons! more normal maps! more textures! And bigger! Quite frankly, I could care less if the characters I’m playing with look like real people. I could care even less if the characters I’m making look like real people.

My next point: the DS isn’t the best system in the world for 3D graphics, and I like that about it. Forget the hyperpoly (it’s like hyperbole, really) bull, how about that?

That this game-that-is-not-a-game gives us more opportunity for interactivity than most games do says a lot about the medium. Really.

Let’s just look at the touchscreen; the gimmick that’s making me pick up my DS (which I paid for) more than my PSP (which I didn’t).

Prodding at the DS, you might say the touchscreen is the fundamental mechanic that makes this machine a new beast. Not the dual screens, no. Those are just resolution extensions. But the touchscreen, which I was too reserved to embrace, wormed its way into my ratings; I think it has a lot of potential. We’re just not using it that way. Yet. It’s still young, it may grow.

The one thing I’ve seen the pressure sensitivity used for is a Japanese calligraphy teaching game; at least, I think it’s pressure sensitive. 

Were you one of the lucky people who had the glorious goodfortune to play in monochrome, before the world was wowed by 4 colour CGA, before the world was wowed by WoW?

I had an Apple II; it had two colours, green and a murky brown that passed muster for black in the night. It had games like Space Invaders and Wavy Navy that had ships that were ten, twenty pixels or so, but I could tell those ships were ships, and everyone along with me. And the games were pretty damn fun to play.

What exactly has colour given us? At first we had the pure remarkability of having 4 colours onscreen, then 16, then 256, then millions, the sharpness and crispness of our images expanding exponentially with each iteration of monitor divinity. I don’t think the same sense exists with HD; it’s very pretty, but it hasn’t blown people away quite the same way.

But what has it done for gaming?

Years after the Apple II+, I played Tetris on a beastly 386; it was in VGA, wonderful. Not so long after that, I played it on one of those monochrome Tetris monoclone machines that were flooding Asia and quite possibly the entire world, and — it didn’t make a difference.

We’re not doing enough with the potential of colour, just like how we’re not really doing anything with the pressure-sensitive screen of the DS, a miniature Cintiq if ever there were one (my 400 dollar PDA doesn’t have a pressure-sensitive screen for god’s sake).

I draw a grid on my DS screen. I put a cross in it, then a circle, another cross, until I’m at an impasse. Then it hits me; I’m free to do whatever I want in this game, and the lack of limitations is killing me.

What to do, where to go, how to do it? I don’t know. I plot out a little chart on the screen tracking my potential career progression. It bisects the screen neatly. Bottom-left, meet upper-right. At least we’re optimistic.

I start planning tomorrow’s schedule; finish my resume, polish my portfolio, do something productive. Suddenly it hits me; I don’t have that much left to do.

I trace a line around my DS’s insensitive screen. It takes a while before I realise I’m re-enacting a scene from Tron: Light Cycles. I close my DS.

Today’s over. Turn out the lights.

Colors! It could be the best game you’ll play all year.

Media Molecule: you’re my new love September 8, 2007

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit.
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FINALLY! SOMEONE USES NEXTGEN CAPABILITY THE RIGHT WAY. I’ve been in love with Little Big Planet ever since the first trailer came out, but I feel it’s worth pointing out to those of you who don’t spend much time in the gaming world.

This is awesome; it’s like Rare using all the roaring angelic power of the 360 to make brightly-coloured cartoon pinatas. Innovation! What an alien concept. Imagine; using the power of PlayStation to foster a world that’s as resplendent in interactive glory as it is in beauty!

It might even be fun.

I’d totally want to work for these guys if they weren’t based in the UK.

Art links:

http://dric.lil.to/ – wandering star – katamari-esque

http://agasang.egloos.com/ agasang

http://maggi.new21.net/ maggi

words that need to die September 8, 2007

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit.

Today’s entry revolves around words that need to die.


Not only

…because my PDA’s handwriting recognition system won’t pick them up unless I manually enter them into its dictionary and I resent this immemesely! but also for these words are inimemecal in their seditious defilement of the aesthetic space known as the internet, and of that other aesthetic space known as my sanity
but also

…well, where’s the advantage in either of those words suppurating in the mire of popular consciousness? We survived just fine before meme besmeared the forefront of the blogroll and we’ll survive just fine without it, I tells you. I also tells you, the real reason I detest both these words so devoutly is this: they’re cog catchwords in the perpetual motion machine of the blogosfear illiterati.

People sometimes use meme and schadenfreude the way they should be, like the things that they are (words) — and! people sometimes use them because meme (substitute the other offender, if you must) is a word that everyone else has suddenly discovered and must use so they might join the memetic club. I tells you, yours are malignant, yon memes.

Ask me about the other one!

Naw, I’ll be concise.

Schadenfreude is the German word for deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others.”

Now there’s an opening variegated in flavours of unimaginative, all of them tasteless. Excellent; spend the first line of your introductory paragraph explaining the first word of your article; it takes me one line (hell, one word) to figure out the rest of the article isn’t worth reading.

Oh God, I turn the television on to get away from the stupidity of the plebweb and what do l hear?

“There’s a German word…”

I shit you not!

If I actually need to look up a word, I’ll use a dictionary, thanks.

Also, when I said “today” — I really meant “sometime last year, when I was really angry about the abuse of two specific words that serve no purpose but to aggravate the living shit out of me”. Today, in the sense that I just found this verbiage sprouting all surreptitious-as-you-please on my PDA.

More than a year later, these assholes are still recycling that stupid schadenfreude line. That includes you, if you’re doing it; stop it!

addendum: but here is an example of how you might temper your abuse with grace; this guy is not an asshole.

farcical review bullshit, bungled arthuriana? June 22, 2006

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit.
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I was more than a little afraid that Tristan and Isolde was going to be another notch in the peg of piss-poor Arthuriana films that have hit the big screen lately (let’s not even talk about King Arthur, which had potential that was ruined by Keira Knightley’s posh, prancing, Pictish princess — does she even bother to act? Why does she speak with more plums in her mouth than the king? — and Lancelot as pouty, whiny emo-boy “Why must we save them? I want to go home!” whose face can’t save him from sucking). Particularly since I’ve always been rather enamoured of the “original” versions of the story.

I liked it, slight cheese factor aside (you do know it’s a romance, don’t you). Actually, I was kind of annoyed that I didn’t see it in the theatre. It’s refreshingly ……………….subtle (mostly) for a Hollywoodish flick, with understated sets that felt believably filthy. Rufus Sewell, as usual, owned the screen with sheer presence; I rather liked Sophia Myles as Isolde, although her father could done with some of the same presence that Sewell had. I’m glad they adhered to the tack of King Mark’s retaining his kindness to the very end — the key factor that pulls tragedy out of the story.

The only real gripe I have is that they left the black sails out of the movie. I’d really have liked to have seen that worked in somehow — the ending felt a little anticlimatic as a result. BUT! I thought the script was certainly more coherent than the old romances – shit, imagine having three Isoldes and two Tristans in the same movie.

I just want to point out the inappropriateness of the tagline: Love conquers all. Hello? It’s Tristan and Isolde! Everybody dies! (or is at least left somewhat miserable.)

Anyway, conveniently covering the rest of my thoughts, there’s a more in-depth review by Orson Scott Card here:
http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2006-01-22.shtml. Flame on.

NB: I have not seen Knight’s Tale, the trailer scared me. Is it any good?
NB2: The one awesome thing about King Arthur was that Mads Mikkelsen as “Tristan” (as far as I can tell none of his backstory ever surfaced) looked ludicrously cool.
NB3: If anyone has any recommendations for films in the same vein, let me know so I can binge!

farcical review bullshit, Animal Crossing DS (yes, bungled). April 20, 2006

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit.
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When you break the space-time paradigm, your town gets overrun by weeds and all your animals hate you because you haven’t written them vapid love letters for the past six months.

I need to return my colleague’s DS, the one he lent me specifically so I could experience the lifestyle of small, ugly, fat-headed creatures that resemble not a single animal I’ve ever had the displeasure of knowing.

Ha! I can’t return it yet, because!

thanks to my adventures through DS space-time (well, how else was I meant to experience white christmas in the middle of April?), his town is infested with weeds. Hundreds of filthy WEEDS.

I wouldn’t mind, but

…every time I feel the urge to go on a dandelion rampage, I remember why I still have his DS sitting around at home, totally neglected.

Animal Crossing takes… time. Remember Super Mario 2? You could play as Princess Toadstool. That babe, she could fly. She flew so good, I picked her all the time, because I was the worst jumper in the world. That was her special thing, flying. She failed at everything else, and especially at picking up stuff. Oh god, every time she bent down to uproot some innocent pupaturnip, she had a hernia, I swear. It was excruciating. I know it was excruciating for her because it was for me, watching her strain at that turnip for hours (child time: approx. five seconds to an hour. Then my brother would play the next go with that speedy Toad jerk-off and I’d feel exactly the same way I feel about those unconscionable dandyweeds in Animal Crossing: Wild World.

If I could be Toad in this game, I’d weed till the cow things came home. But I’m not Toad. I’m Princess. And I don’t even get to fly.

ComeMon, people. November 23, 2005

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, random bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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Candice says:
Candice says:
Candice says:
i think they COULD have picked a better name
koi says:
hahahaha maybe they did.
Candice says:
Candice says:
isn’t that just clingfilm?
koi says:
i can’t believe people pay money for stuff like this.. let’s sell saran wrap
Candice says:
Candice says:
actually i saw some good stuff last night
Candice says:
it was weird
Candice says:
not like clingfilm really
Candice says:
it’s likeummmmmmmmm
Candice says:
if an alien were giving birth and its baby had a caul around it
Candice says:
that’s what the caul would be like.
Candice says:
koi says:

koi says:
you should just be in marketing
koi says:
Candice says:
Candice says:

an obsessive post about mechanical keyboards October 27, 2005

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, random bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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Does anyone remember the old mechanical-type keyboards that used to weigh about as much as a pack of bricks and had a steel plate you could use as bulletproof armour?

I have a couple of these that I’ve managed to destroy in some way or other over the years (I’ve tried putting them in the bath and drying them out for weeks, no good. apparently I should be dishwashing them). I recently went on a quest to seek out my favourite keyboard of all time, the Dell AT101W. It doesn’t have the buckling springs of the IBM Model M, but it has ALPS switches, which I prefer as they give a lighter, faster feel.

I’m glad to see I’m not the only person obsessed with being able to type on a keyboard that doesn’t feel like a sponge.


These guys have even recorded the noise buckling spring and ALPS keyboards make.

I had a look on ebay and found a bunch of hideously dirty keyboards, but I did find a few “NEW” AT101W’s. ebay UK has a sad paucity of any type of mechanical keyboard whatsoever, so I was forced to trawl through ebay US. The keyboard I settled for is like 9 bucks and the shipping is 35 bucks, go figure. It’s about the same price as buying a standard non-budget keyboard over here anyway. I tried to explain my obsession with clicky keyboards to various people, but they all think I’m insane. I used to turn the clicky noise on in ICQ chat so I’d feel more powerful and endowed with superspeed typing capabilities. I can’t really explain it. It’s as though the click justifies the calories I’ve expended into pressing down on this piece of plastic (mind you, since you press lighter thanks to the click that tells you when to stop pressing halfway, it takes less effort than a squishy type membrane keyboard and is purportedly better for your fingers (I concur, mine ache way less when I use one)). I feel progressively exhilarated with every double click, CLICK click clicky clicky, clicky clicky and then I sink into a state of sated bliss. Typing up anything is joy. Words fail me.

I considered one of these das keyboard doohickeys but christ they’re expensive.

Then I learned the Optimus OLED keyboard was going into production. Unfortunately, I also saw the bit about the $200 production cost, and god only knows if it’s mechanical.

This post has spirited me away to ubergeekdom.

This mouseball is disgusting.


And if I touched this keyboard with steel gauntlets they would probably corrode away on contact. Eeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwww. apparently it’s from a net cafe in China.

If you think I’m nuts, look at this page.


and if you can’t read japanese, http://www.dansdata.com/ibmkeyboard.htm tells you loads about mechanical keyboards. YOU WANT ONE YOU KNOW YOU WANT ONE!


On a whim, I bought the SK-8811 (no, I’m not david1991david2004. what kind of wack nick is that?) since I need another keyboard for the one I’ve trashed in London, and it was only 5.74 total in the UK, which is extremely cheapoid. Yes, I know it’s not mechanical, but I was hoping it would have a similar feel to the keyboard I used at work, which is pretty clicky for a rubberdome keyboard.


Hmm. It just arrived. It’s not as clicky as I’ve heard it described, but it’s extremely light and not horrible, I suppose. The annoying thing is that the enter key is like a larger backspace button, which means I hit the # which is above it. Bah. Oh well, it was cheap. It does the job. Interestingly enough, it has two scroll page forward and backward buttons on either side of the up arrow, which I keep hitting because the arrow keys are slightly lower on this keyboard than they normally are. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet – I don’t particularly love it, but I definitely don’t hate it. Feh, if you want a clicky but semi-squishy keyboard, you’d probably like this one.


I can’t believe I’m sitting here reviewing keyboards.

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog! WTF! (click click)

click CLICK click CLICK CLICK click CLICK click


and I don’t care about dvorak, damnit! stop it!

naked girls October 15, 2005

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, random bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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apparently if you’re looking for a monitor on amazon, you may also be interested in

…naked girls.


matrix reloaded blew my nuts stone cold. May 28, 2003

Posted by eatnorthamerica in farcical review bullshit, things that are not quite things we know.
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matrix reloaded blew my nuts stone cold. Those of you who have seen it will probably agree with me, those of you who don’t, I’m not going to bother arguing with. I don’t particularly care to hear how much it rocked because overuse of the freezeframe effect is totally bodacious, dude.

Those of you yet to see it, do whatever you want, but I fell asleep three times only to be awoken by my friend grumbling about how Neo was doing the stupid Superman Jesus flying thing again, or how he was stupidly NOT doing the stupid Super Manjesus flying thing, or how he was just generally being Super Man, Jesus (it does have a decent highway scene though).

I was bored on the train home, so I wrote a long spiel on how shattered I was about my beautiful hero Neo (who is defined by his remarkable character growth: normal Neo (£4.99), trenchcoat Neo (£7.99), SUPERMAN JESUS NEO (already kleptoed off shelves)) being so horridly degraded by this travesty of cinema.

Then I wept a single, shining tear onto the cold obsidian of my trenchcoat. It shone in the moonlight, like a sparkling diamond.


anyway, I lost the spiel somewhere in the disgrace that is my room, oh no. Let’s just say that when the architect emerged I felt a momentary compulsion to hurl eggs at the screen. Then I realised chickens would never forgive me for soiling their carefully-produced produce with bits of horrid matrix goo.

then I went back to sleep.

(incidentally chicken eggs come out tan over here, and seeing real white-shelled eggs freaks me out. what the hell do you north americans do to your feathered friends?)

OH YES. Speaking of which, they’re making a movie of the comic Hellblazer, which features one of the most solidly English blokes on the planet, John Constantine. You look at me, I look at you and we say “Oi, mate, who’s the obvious choice for this role, then?”

and Hollywood looks back at us and says… “Like duh, he’s totally bodacious … DUDE.”

So Hellblazer is renamed Constantine for the pansies of the world and Keanu mangles yet another English character to high shit with no returns. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to repress my curiosity enough to boycott seeing it, though damn it all to hell, if I see another 10 minute sweaty rave scene i’m fleeing the building. My Semtex will be staying.


I liked Constantine. Damnit.