No One Lives Forever

In the Video Game Culture course I plan to teach next semester, students will be required to write game journals, an idea I got from Laurie. We’ll be using Blogger to write our journals, so I thought I’d start keeping a game journal on this blog, both to provide model entries for students and because I know you loyal readers out there care deeply about my gaming.

I recently read about the upcoming FPS Thriller F.E.A.R.. While I wasn’t excited by what I saw before, the article in PC Gamer interested me for two reasons: 1) it talked about lots of nifty stuff the game does that makes it worth thinking about and playing and 2) it mentioned that the game was produced by MONOLITH, the company who created No One Lives Forever, a highly entertaining, campy 60s spy game. Having been reminded of NOLF, I decided to start playing NOLF2, which has been sitting on my shelf for some time.

I particularly enjoy funny games. Serious games are fine and dandy, but I prefer to chuckle than cringe. NOLF did that. I was excited to see whether NOLF2 would do the same. Sure enough, the first level features several conversations you can overhear, along with funny notes like this:


It’s gonna be great!

The Namesakes series

20050926-hubbins.jpgIn This is Spinal Tap, David St. Hubbins shows Marty DiBergi a tape from the “Namesakes” series, in which celebrities read works by authors with the same last name. For example, Denham Elliott reads T.S. Eliot and Dr. J reads the collected works of Washington Irving.

What if you ran an “intro to theory and pop culture” course along similar lines? Each unit features a theorist discussed in class and related to a namesake in pop culture:

  • Walter Benjamin on Andre Benjamin
  • Gregory Ulmer on James Blood Ulmer
  • Frederic Jameson on Jenna Jameson
  • Helen Benedict on Pope Benedict

And if you were allowed to stretch it a bit…

  • Marshall McLuhan on Sarah McLaughlin
  • Kate Hayles on John Sayles
  • Gilles Deleuze on Dom DeLuise


The future is now (or) Sharks with Friggin Lasers

Even sharks deserve a warm meal.

Or dolphins, rather. Craziness, thy name is the US military.

Random thoughts about ‘Saw’

Spoiler Alert! I’m gonna write about the plot of this movie and reveal bits of what happened, even the end! Turn back now!
Clowns are scary

Clowns are Scary

  • “It’s Seven, with a hint of Cube and The Most Dangerous Game.”
  • Clowns are almost always scary.
  • It’s not clear to me how the killer decides who to kill, or why they have to be killed the way they were. One of the brilliant moves Seven makes is to unite form with function. Here, the violent deaths only tangentially relate to the people they’re inflicted upon.

Continue reading Random thoughts about ‘Saw’

Remember Sammy Jenkis (1)

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen Memento, you might not want to read this post, as I’ll probably reveal stuff about the film you don’t want to know.

I just watched Memento with my students and am thinking about it a bit. Obviously, the structure of the film brings the loop to the forefront, something I’m sure I’ll talk about at MPCA, but what interests me at the moment are Leonard’s tattoos. Some floating ideas:

  • Tattoos are “all the rage.” Why have tattoos become mainstream body art? (When A&E has a show about it, it’s mainstream.) I’ve heard the notion that tattoos are “something to remember ‘me’ by.” Memento obviously plays on that. They’re also permanent, and broadcast something about the tatt-ee. Natalie calls Leonard’s tats creepy.
  • They become metonymic for the shifting reality of the postmodern world. I’m tempted to make a few connections here, but they aren’t all that flushed out: the tattoos and notes seem to be metonyms for print and electric communication. The former are more sturdy and reliable, but they may still be inaccurate.
  • The tattoos also provide the founding myths of Leonard’s life, much like print texts provide founding structures for national mythologies. (CF The Atlas of the European Novel and others.) In other words, the “John G. Raped and Killed Your Wife” tattoo becomes the driving force behind Leonard’s life despite the fact that, if Teddy is to be believed, Leonard’s wife survived. In that light, they function much like the Horatio Alger myth.

Other things to ponder: the looping narrative and the polaroids.

5th sentence

Via Pharyngula via Profgrrrrl via The Way Seeker


1. Go into your archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Figures this wouldn’t work:

Cannonball Adderly, Sophisticated Swing, disc 2

My 24th entry, though, yields this:

When asked about her scheme, she countered, “Your mother sells hot dogs.”

On the way to work today…

  • The conductor stopped the train for longer than usual and announced: “Your attention please: we’re currently waiting while we experience a security sweep.” They usually say conduct rather than experience.
  • I sat in the tiny seat at the front of the car perpendicular to the door. Cramped but you don’t have to share.
  • A man crossed the street against the light, glancing to make sure there was no traffic coming. A young woman, perhaps twenty feet behind him, crossed without looking and, striding forth from behind a parked bus, narrowly avoided getting run over by a car. She didn’t look bothered by it.
  • I politely refused a Chinese takeout menu.
  • Watching the light change from yellow to red, I saw a man sprint into the crosswalk, only to get stranded in the middle. As the bumper-to-bumper traffic surged past, a woman in a sporty silver car tried to merge and dial her cell phone at the same time.

Orderly mp3-ing progresses apace

Added to my iTunes library last week:

  • Jack Knife & the Sharps, Ace Cafe

  • Jack Knife & the Sharps, Jack Knife & the Sharps,

  • Interpol, Antics

  • Husker Du, Warehouse: Songs and Stories

  • Friday
  • Alice in Chains, Dirt

  • Alice in Chains, Facelift

  • Alice in Chains, Sap

  • The Adjusters, Before the Revolution

  • Thursday
  • Sam & Dave, Greatest Songs

  • The Rolling Stones, Hot Rocks, Disc 1

  • Django Reinhardt, The Best of Django Reinhardt

  • Wednesday
  • Koerner, Ray, & Glover, The Return of Koerner, Ray, & Glover

  • James, Seven

  • Fatboy Slim, Palookaville

  • Tuesday
  • Moby, Play

  • Bill Morrissey, Something I saw or Thought I Saw

  • A New Found Glory, Catalyst

TiVo Fracas Roundup


Yesterday, the internet was a-flurry with rumors that TiVo was implementing a copy-protection scheme that would prevent users from keeping shows beyond a certain point:

I recently got a sample of Tivo DRM, accidentally I suspect. Recently a Simpson’s rerun recorded with a red-flag next to it (an icon I’ve never seen before). When I selected the episode, I got a message to the effect that “the copyright holder prohibited saving the episode past date mm/dd”. I also noted that this episode could not be copied using Tivo Togo (Link)

TiVo responded quickly:

[The TiVo rep] said the copy protection is trigged by a flag in the video signal. The reports appearing on the Web appear to be cases where TiVo misinterprets noise in the signal as a copy protection flag, and imposes the restrictions.

“During the test process, we came across people who had false positives because of noisy analog signals,” he said. “We actually delayed development (of the new TiVo software) to address those false positives.”

But apparently, that doesn’t make any sense.

In the room are film executives, consumer electronics manufacturers, software and operating system vendors, semiconductor manufacturers and conditional access system designers. When I asked them if they believed that noise could be “misinterpreted” as a DRM flag, they burst into positive howls of disbelief. One present talked about Macrovision’s checksums and said that that must have been “incredible noise if it completed the checksum.” A semiconductor expert laughed out loud.

Alas, I end up feeling link this guy

The basic question is why TiVo is implementing these crap features. But if you want to live with the features, the next question is, who has access to the flag controls? If someone inside TiVo flipped the flag on, for whatever reason, TiVo should say that now. If the broadcaster — through the analog signal being named as the fall guy by Mr. Denney — can turn the flag on whenever they want, the power of this feature is in the wrong hands altogether.

and agreeing that “while I’m a fan of the machine, I’ll bolt as soon as this new “feature” kills out a show I’d been saving. There are alternatives that don’t do this”.

Why, TiVo? Why?

That was predictable

I am Ash, from the “Evil Dead” trilogy.
I’m the guy with the…chainsaw.

Which Random Cult Movie Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(via CultureCat)


Hank Williams’ I saw the Light is playing on The Current as I write this. What a strange moment in my personal songography.

I’ve only heard this song one other time, when Johnny Cash was singing it as the nogoodnick Evalgelical singer on a particularly amusing episode of Columbo. At the time, I assumed the song was a Johnny Cash original written for the Columbo episode–particularly since the singer was supposed to be shooting up the music charts with that ditty. Now I realise that Cash’s character was climbing the charts via a cover.

I’m reminded of the saga of The Adjusters, a funk/soul band whose album I bought because I liked their modern take on the 60s soul sound. When I got the album home, I discovered that my favorite song of theirs, “Toehold,” was a Wilson Picket cover. Doh!

The question of the remake arises, then, as a question of context. How much responsibility lies with the writer to make sure the reader knows the text is a remake? I remember being told that the European tradition is to leave off citation, expecting that a competent reader will recognize a quote when they hear it. In the American academy, we make no such assumptions. If we want to look to the remake as a model for intellectual practice, what do we do with the citation? (Does it go in the liner notes?)

Addendum: I read/ heard somewhere about a child who, upon finally seeing the film Annie, commented that they’d ripped off Jay-Z.

You’ve been missing my music posts

Since I moved our office into the living room and started MP3-ing my CDs instead of playing three at a time on rotation, I’ve stopped posting my “in the stereo” posts. I’m sure you’re all shuddering from withdrawl.

Thus begins my new weekly post: what I’ve MP3’d in the last week.

  1. Ani DiFranco, Imperfectly

  2. Bob Dylan, Another Side of Bob Dylan

  3. Everclear, So Much for the Afterglow

  4. Friday
  5. Simon & Garfunkel, Greatest Hits

  6. The Senders, Jumpin Uptown

  7. Various, Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits

  8. Silent Grey Fellows, Front Porch

  9. Thursday
  10. Counting Crows, Across a Live Wire (Disc 1)

  11. Colin James, And His Little Big Band 2

  12. Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks

  13. Blink-182, Blink-182

  14. Brian Wilson, Smile

  15. Bush, Sixteen Stone

  16. Flogging Molly, Drunken Lullabies

  17. Ministry, The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste

  18. Green Day, International Superhits

  19. Iva Popasov & His Orchestra,Orpheus Ascending

  20. Wednesday
  21. The Committments, The Committments Soundtrack, Vol 1

  22. Tuesday
  23. Rusted Root, When I Woke

  24. They Might Be Giants,The Spine

  25. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Chronicle, Vol 1

I just listen to my music on “party shuffle” now.


From WPA:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in
waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the
frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses
and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn
mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Petrty amzanig huh?