-Having a point is so over-rated.

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Archive for the 'Media/Entertainment' Category

16 Jun

Dark Elves have huge ears

Every time my husband wanders into my den when I’m playing WoW, and if I’m playing one of my dark elf characters, he watches for a few seconds, then says: “She has big ears.”

wow-misc-00044.jpg

wow-misc-00045.jpg

One has to wonder what Blizzard was thinking when they gave the Dark Elf such comically bizarre ears. I mean, they’re like pointy Vulcan ears combined with the floppy length of bunny ears - and they do flop around in-game.
BTW, I want a Homing Robot Chicken like in the lower picture. There’s some WoW quests where you ‘escort’ the mechanical chickens to safety, and they’re really cute. Maybe engineers can make one - I know they can make some other bot-pets. But it’s too much work to level a profession just for that…

11 Jun

The casual and solo WoW player

Whereby I describe my on again/off again time and playstyle with WoW over the years, and finally get a WoW character to level 70.

I am what I’d call a hardcore player of video games in terms of task/tinkering obsession, but a casual player in terms of game-goal orientation. That is, I might spend hours and hours leveling up every skill/profession on multiple characters to check them out, but I don’t care about game-titles/awards, game-story-plot/factions, doing what it takes to acquire the “best gear”, racking up PvP scores, or even winning/finishing the game. So for a single-player strategy games and RPG’s I might spend months on certain aspects of the game, but never quite finish the game.

WoW, for me, has been no different. When this online-RPG first came out, I spent about 3 solid months obsessively playing. I loved leveling the profession skills and running around looking for resources in what felt like a gigantic endless game world. I loved Hunters, because I could have a pet kitty, and because I like to play alone and a pet is good for solo-Wow. I avoided other players, I didn’t accept party invites, I didn’t duel, I never had a character that reached lvl 60 (the max at the time) and I never saw the inside of a dungeon instance until it was useless to do it for anything but exploratory knowledge. Still, I was happy and had a blast. One of reasons I prefer WoW over other on-line games I’ve tried is that it’s fairly friendly to people like me - people who like to play mostly alone - or maybe with just a few friends - and don’t care much about the things that supposedly make an online game an online game. I’ve always said I’d kill for a complete single-player version of WoW.

But like with any game, I eventually I got a little bored of the repetitive “grind” and I stopped playing for a long, long time. Then I picked it up again for a couple months, then stopped again. Then I picked it up yet again. Only this time, I started completely over again on another server, instead of going back to my old characters. Things had changed a lot…the first expansion had come out by then….but my style of playing hadn’t changed - I still largely run around collecting resources, and I’ve become an Auction House/make gold addict. If you don’t know, the Auction House is where WoW players can buy/sell items they find to other players - without having to actually talk to other players. I love this aspect of WoW - it’s kind of like a mini-game. The challenge of acquiring the stuff to sell and the timing of when to sell and what to sell and so on.

Currently I have one main character (hunter) and several 25-40-ish “alts” - alts are characters you play when bored of your “main” or for other various reasons. Most of my alts exist largely to have access to the max level of non-Outland lvl profession skills, such as enchanting, but it’s also just nice to play another class now and then. Anyway, this time around I reached level 60 and beyond w/my main - wanting to see the new Outland expansion areas was a strong incentive. After that, I’ve been playing off and on (mostly off), obsessing for a few days or a week at a time and then ignoring the game for 3-4 months. When I did play, I hunted resources to make gold. Obviously, this isn’t a great way to level up a character, so my main has been “stuck” at level 68 for over half a year.

Now the new expansion “Wrath of the Lich King” is supposedly going to be released semi-soon, so I determined that I had to get to lvl 70 to be ready for it. Much agonizing and horribly, horribly annoying monster-grinding later, I got there…and since I had so much gold already saved up, I immediately bought the Epic flying mount. It did make me sad to part with so much of my hard-earned gold (I’m even more miserly in WoW than I am in real life), but the Epic flying mount is much much faster than the ground-mount that I’ve been using forever. And I must say - if I’d know flying around Outland would be this cool, I’d have done it a bit sooner. It really is awesome. Too bad you can’t use it in the old pre-expansion lands, too.

wow flying gryphon

My only problem now is that I don’t know what to do next. I mean, you’re supposed to do all this instance-goal-oriented stuff once you reach lvl 70…but that’s not my bag. I don’t want to play with other people. And most of the great items can’t be had without doing that stuff, so I doubt I’ll ever be equipped with anything much more than I already have. Besides, what I have allows me to survive/do ok in the surface areas already as it is. I’m not powerful, but I survive. So I guess now it’s back to the Auction House game to restore my depleted gold reserves as I wait for the 2nd expansion…I wonder how long it would take me to collect 100,000 gold, for instance…why, you ask? Because I can. And now that I can fly, it should be a lot more efficient.

09 Jun

National Treasure 2, Thirteen Days, and Bruce Greenwood

My husband and I rented “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” last night. We had thought the first movie was passably entertaining despite it’s flaws, and thought we’d give the sequel a shot. It wasn’t long before I’d formed the opinion that Book of Secrets contained most of the same flaws, and maybe some new ones. The film was watchable and even made me chuckle here and there, but it was, as I often like to say, nothing special.

Small side characters like Harvey Keitel come and go like the wind, appearing when necessary to the plot (such as it is) and nothing more. Which is a bit disappointing since I like/admire many of the big names in the movie. I mean, Helen Mirren, Jon Voight, Ed Harris, for goodness sake - all largely wasted in this fluffy adventure film. The action is swift and frequent, but the plot and circumstances surrounding it only makes you shake your head. The “bad guy”, played by Ed Harris, doesn’t come off as scary or dangerous, for one thing - he’s just a little kooky and determined to be written about in history books. Poor Ed. Now, one doesn’t typically expect realism in this type of film - but characters are so thin that there’s no excitement, no emotional drama, to any of the action. Another big car chase, will our heroes get away, ho hum. Still, despite all this, Book of Secrets would satisfy those who liked the first film, and it’s watchable enough to pass the time on a Sunday evening with.

The best part of the movie is the segment dealing with the kidnapping of the President of the United States. The President is played by Bruce Greenwood, and some of the brief script exchanges between him and Nicholas Cage as they explore a hidden tunnel/rooms are priceless. Bruce Greenwood is a wonderful character actor, and watching him in Book of Secrets made me want to watch “Thirteen Days” again…where he plays another US President: JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Thirteen Days is an awesomely entertaining political drama/suspense movie…like most historical-drama films, it takes some liberties with history and characterizations, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic flick. Bruce Greenwood is (or was) an oft underrated actor who’s been in many films - one of those actors where you might recognize his face but not remember his name. In case you’re one of those who can’t place a face to the name, here’s a small picture:

bruce greenwood

He’s most excellent - if you haven’t seen Thirteen Days yet, go rent it. You’ll have to ignore Kevin Costner’s bad Boston accent, but other than that, it’s an A+ movie in my book, mostly because of Mr. Greenwood. So yeah, as you can tell, I think he’s awesome….and best of all, I hear he’s been slated to play Christopher Pike in the upcoming Star Trek movie. I haven’t been too eager over the prospect of a new ST film, since I think Paramount has just about bled that franchise to nothing, but now I have a reason to go see it.

06 Jun

Iron Man mini-review

Hubby and I decided at the last minute to see “Iron Man” instead of Indiana Jones. Mostly because I remembered I wanted to see Iron Man, and I figured that it wouldn’t be in the theater too much longer. While Indiana Jones will likely still be around for a few weeks, at least…even with the rapid cycling turnover of current theater schedules. This was our first trip to the movie complex that’s closest to our new digs…an expansive and modern Century theater in the middle of downtown. The sound system was pretty decent, even for my very treble-sensitive ears. They had the bass so the seats and your heart vibrated with every huge bass note…which was sorta cool, except that to my ears, the bass wasn’t very bass-y. All vibration/shake w/none of the super-deep yet subtle bone shaking. In other words, to me, there’s a difference between bass that makes your pulse beat wildly in time with it and bass that makes your bones resonate but doesn’t make your muscles and pulse feel like they’re being zapped with an industrial vibrator. If that makes sense. No theater yet has beaten the effect of the specific place/sound system/seat rumble effect when I saw Jurassic Park and the T-Rex/watercup scene. So awesome…but alas, that sound system no longer exists in that theater.

We parked in the ‘downtown entertainment’ multi-story parking complex (theater validates your ticket so it’s free), which was the first time I ever encountered/used a soda-like vending machine to pay for the parking ticket. Or in our case, not pay, since we had theater validation. This is a cumbersome automated system…you pull into the lot, grab a ticket to make a bar go up so you can get into the parking space areas. Then when you leave, you have to find a vending-machine like box to push your ticket in - if you owe money for the time, you put in your bills. Then you walk back to your car, drive towards the exit, and put your ticket into yet another machine to raise the flimsy auto-block bar so you can leave. I guess it saves on having to have parking lot employees, but meh.

Anyway….um…hey….what did I think of the actual movie, you patiently ask?

It’s a modern-day, super-CGI, high-tech version of RoboCop, only instead of a sad, tormented soul in the body of a cyborg, there’s a “real live guy” just rattling around inside a hi-tech suit. The suit is powered by something the film calls an “arc converter” power source - wisely, they don’t try to explain how it works, although apparently, when harnessed into a small unit, it glows like radioactive blue lightbulbs. Batman’s cape, Batmobile, grappling hooks/flash powders etc, seem like wooden wagon wheels by comparison. I liked all the character build-up/character conversion and suit-inventing scenes, even if they did go on just a tad too long. The suit CGI effects were awesome. Robert Downey Jr. was awesome.

I guessed who the “real” bad guy was going to be 10 minutes into the movie, however. Plus the ending was weak, since it fell back on the (currently) typical ‘big showdown’ between good and evil counterparts, where our suited-hero and the dastardly evil dude (in a bigger suit) trade unnecessary/delay-device quips and declarations of evil intent at each other between every few blows, while tearing up a city street/buildings during the process. It would’ve been nice if they’d figured out a way to make an ending that was a bit different from the rest of the pack, to go along with the more humanistic aspect of our suited rich-man hero.

But it was an entertaining comic-book movie. For it’s genre, I’d give it 8/10.

21 May

American Idol - Did David win? Yes.

American Idol’s 2 hour extravaganza finale was actually fairly entertaining this year. They had some good guest stars mixing it up with some of the Top12 singers, a few funny bits, and, of course, the announcement of the winner.

Memorable moments for me were:

David Cook playing with ZZTop. Now that was cookin’. I love ZZTop.

Michael Johns and Carly Smithson singing “The Letter”. Perhaps these two should put out a duet album. Judging from this performance and their appearance on “Ellen”, they work and sound good together. It was very nice to see Michael again. :)

Brooke White and Grahmn Nash singing “Teach Your Children.” I grew up with that song, it has some memories, plus it’s an awesome song. And it’s perfect for Brooke.

Renaldo Lapuz!! He came out singing his “I am your brother” song, complete with marching band and at the end, Paula & Randy up on stage dancing alongside him etc. Wonderful cheesy fun. Makes me want to listen to that remixed YouTube version again.

The Gladys Night and the “Pips” segment, where Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and Ben Stiller were the “Pips.” That was hysterical. At least to me.

Jordin Sparks singing some tepid pop song in a horrible, unflattering dress.

Both David’s did their own version of a Guitar Hero commercial where they ran around in undies and button shirt ala Risky Business…I suppose it was supposed to be funny, but honestly, that’s not exactly the American Idol image I’d like to remember.

Then finally…the results were in. 94million or so supposedly cast their votes, and Ryan Seacrest said the winner had won by 12 million of those votes. And the winner was …. David Cook! He was slightly tearful and motioned for the audience to ‘give it up’ for David Archuleta, before singing the winner song.

Now, since I thought both David’s had a chance of winning, I wasn’t tooo surprised, but I admit I was a little. I guess this year the voters were finally tired of the more predictable ballad-singing pop voice and wanted something grungier and perhaps a bit more creative. So kudos to Mr. Cook.

I still wish David Archuleta had won…not because he was better or because I liked him better - I was pretty neutral about all of it - but because in my opinion, he would likely have been more comfortable/at home with the contractual mumbo-jumbo that winning AI is going to throw at him for the next year. I’m sure David Cook can “handle” that stuff, but he might’ve been a little better off getting a separate recording contract and making a record that’s more indelibly his own, if that makes sense. But I’m not a music industry guru, so what do I know.

Anyway, it was a watchable American Idol finale, and a David won. Until next year, so long, American Idol, and good luck to David Cook. Me, I’ll still be waiting for a Michael Johns CD.

20 May

American Idol - David vs. David in a fight to the finish

I wasn’t sure I was going to write anything about the American Idol show tonight. It’s been a long day, with a sick kitty. But after watching the show, I felt a slight stir of excitement stir within my breast for the competitiveness of it all. As usual, this isn’t a blow by blow style recap … it’s more of an opinion piece.

1st song round:
David Cook sang “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” He moved, he emoted, he danced off the main stage and behind the judges. It was a very good performance. But I still felt like there was something missing and I still wasn’t moved. But since his performance was great, I’d give him 8/10 on this one.

David Archuleta sang “Don’t Let the Sun go Down on Me.” My husband and I were wracking our brains trying to remember who made this a hit single, but failed to recall. D.A started just a tiny, tiny bit weak in the very beginning, but the rest of it was superb. I think he was singing in a slightly lower pitch than his “normal” one, because for this song his voice lost some of that nasal quality and sounded more mature. I prefer him singing in this range and wish he had done so a little more often. It made me wonder what he’s going to be like 5 years from now. I agree with Simon that D.A. won the first round. 10/10.

2nd song round:
David Cook sang “Dream Big”. - Ok, I know I’m not “with it” musically anymore, but as D.C. began, I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He was mumbling. It was an alt-rock kind of mumbling, but the point is, I couldn’t tell what he was mumbling. The arrangement was, to me and my middle-aged frame of reference, very late 80’s alt rock with a dash of late 80’s heavy metal. D.C. sounded like he was straining his vocal cords just a bit in places, which I think Andrew Lloyd Webber referred to when he said that D.C had to watch his voice, or protect his voice, or something like that. It’s late, I don’t remember word for word. Anyway, D.C. did fine, but it wasn’t a big winner for me. 7/10.

David Archuleta sang “In This Moment”. - Back to the boring ballad. Although, not quite as boring as some of his previous ballad choices. Well sung, however - better than his usual I think - and considering the sappy song, fairly well presented. 7/10

3rd round song:
David Cook sang “World I Know.” - He mumbled again at the start. Maybe my ears have wax in them. After that, however, it was the typical D.C. alt-rock performance and vocals, except with a somewhat more mellow arrangement. Again, not bad, and it’s nice that he chose to do a completely new song instead of re-hash a previous performance, but I’m not wild about it. Also, at this point, his wild “I just got out of bed” fluffed up hair that’s spiked higher on one side than the other was distracting me to no end. Someone give this man a comb. Please. 8/10

David Archuleta sang “Imagine.” - I’m probably one of the few who didn’t think his original performance of this song was uber-fantastic. It was all right, and cleanly sung, but nothing special. And tonight, D.A. did it pretty much the same - it was all right, and cleanly sung. If you thought it was great back when, you’d probably think it was great this time around too. But…in a singing competition, it’s never quite as awesome to your ears the second time around. It’s not original to the competitor anymore. Still, I don’t think D.A. lost many points for choosing the safe road. 9/10

So who will win this mighty battle of the singing Davids? Simon pretty much thought David A. won the night. Randy and Paula thought it was more of a toss-up. Myself…I think either stands a good chance of winning, but I personally think David A. is going to come up with the most votes to win. And I say this from a perspective of not finding either David “fantastic” - whether this means my opinion is unbiased by “fandom” and thus my prediction might be more accurate than those who think David C. will win … I highly doubt it. *wink*

It’s still anyone’s ball game…that’s the nature of American Idol. But the “rocker” typically doesn’t win on AI. My theory is that perhaps this is because it (rock) is not quite as universally appealing (from teens, young adults, middle-age, grandmas, rebels, conformists, religious, atheist, all walks of life, all walks of musical tastes) - it’s more of a niche. A large niche to be sure, but still a niche, if that makes sense. And when it comes down to the final two, with no one else to vote for, the ‘niche’ fans tend to get out-voted. Thus, with David A.’s strong and no-mistakes performances this evening, I think that will happen again and American Idol’s pattern of the rocker placing 2nd isn’t going to change.

But if David Cook does win, he certainly would deserve to do so as much as David Archuleta. I mean, c’mon, they’re both very good for what they are. It’s like comparing apples and oranges, really. Too bad they can’t both win.

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