Archive for September, 2006

Railroaded

The upside of having a friend that works for Firaxis is you get a town named after you in their new game. The downside? Calling the town a shanty is being polite (note septic tank) and that very same town appears to be in desperate need of “nitrates.” You see, nitrates are a traded commodity in Sid’s Railroads and they come from farms — specifically, in the form of animal-produced fertilizer.

What does all this mean? Well, basically it means that my dead-end town should expect a train piled high with shit to pull up any minute. Pleasant, no? Ah, the refined joys of friendship…

Railroads should be gold shortly and in stores faster than you can say “train dumps cow dump on dumpy town.”

Update: Railroads is Golden

A for Adaptation

To say a film isn’t as good as the book is to echo what’s been said so many times before about film adaptations. Try as they might, the movie almost never feels as engaging or deep as its source…except, well, if you see the movie first? In a recent Harper’s roundtable, Tom de Zengotita put it this way:

If you read a book and then see a movie based on it, there’s always dissonance. The characters in the movie are never the people who occupied your mind when you were reading the book, that you constructed yourself out of stuff of your own life experience. On the other hand, if you go to a movie and then read the book, it feels seamless. […] You submit completely to the movie. You see Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett. You just let that happen.     (“Grand Theft Education” in Harper’s September 2006)

We recently did a highly scientific experiment to see if this is true for graphic novels. I read V for Vendetta and watched the movie; Q did the opposite. Even though the movie was reasonably well reviewed, we both found that what Wachowskis filled in was better in the head — from the political context to V and Evey’s relationship to the coda. The novel has a subtlety the film struggles to match. For V, then, order didn’t effect opinion. Well, excepting that Q now wishes she’d read the book first. Seems she’d like to forget what the Wachowskis overexplained.

It’s funny, then, to see the distance between V’s co-authors Alan Moore and David Lloyd on the adaptation. Writer Moore hates it, illustrator Lloyd loves it. Maybe their different roles yielded different levels of dissonance on seeing the movie: visual and textual. One could argue, for instance, that Lloyd’s visual ideas are more reasonably reinterpreted by the film than Moore’s story. Considering the Wachowskis’ penchant for putting spectacle before substance, it only makes sense.

Still, it should be said that V for Vendetta is worth the time in most any form and certainly bears revisiting considering the current stateside political climate. It’s testimony to the strength of the original V that its message remains just as relevant today as it was when the first episode appeared over 20 years ago.

More on Moore and Lloyd’s night and day opinions of the film can be found on wikipedia. And for some clever comparisons between Soviet propaganda and V movie promo posters, see tevis.net.

Legacy Bits

Wiimote

It’s been a week of technolust fulfillment, with both Apple and Nintendo pulling the curtains back on some next generation sexy. But perhaps what’s most interesting about these announcements is what it says about the race for the online living room.

Apple’s iTV, for instance, requires you have a separate computer that stores all your content. The nice thing about it is that, unlike Microsoft’s unsightly Windows Media Center, you don’t have yet another full-fledged Windows box in your living room. The annoying thing about it is that your content is being beamed from a completely different part of your house. I can imagine Apple will do this as well as it can be done, but will inevitably break down at some point. The Mac-to-iTV-to-TV loop is overcomplicated and it exists only because Apple wants to keep Mac in the loop, just as it’s done with countless iPod+Mac tie-ups.

This is Apple adopting Microsoft’s time tested strategy of leveraging a market leading product (the iTunes/iPod juggernaut) to improve the success of those that lag. This clearly worked in the past, but the result is usually nasty and the living room isn’t the office. That’s where Nintendo’s strategy is different. Gamecube’s failure was painful but it also means they have no legacy product to shoehorn into the new venture. N has the opportunity to start clean and, if today’s presentation is any indication, they aren’t wasting it.

Continue reading ‘Legacy Bits’

Slogan Says

“This is living” proclaimed Sony’s European PS3 sloganeers, and they were quickly met with relentless lampooning. Not shocking considering it sounds like the punch line for a retirement community ad. Taken with the proposed price of $600, a friend recently suggested THIS IS EXPENSIVE! as a more content rich alternative. (see also)

Sony’s Euro PS3 site doesn’t do many favors, either. Overheard on IM: “Mouse over random dots and pray you hit the option you want. That’s living.” The one good thing to come out of this for Sony is that few have yet seized upon the equally content free US slogan: “Play Beyond.” Sadly for them, it’s only a matter of time. Play beyond what? Your credit limit?

All this begs the question: is a slogan even freaking necessary? Microsoft’s 360 launched fine without one (though they did their share of HD REVOLUTION chest beating). Nintendo seems to be mildly pushing “playing is believing,” but that actually makes a meaningful statement considering the new controller. Then again, even Nintendo’s meaningless slogans of yesteryear played better than Sony’s current. The industry was young and innocent then, wasn’t it? Maybe now it’s finally old enough that most everyone can smell the bullshit.

Of course, the slogan is only the most recent in a long line of Sony foot shooting incidents. Could it be that they’ve finally moved ahead of Nintendo’s Wii in the race to be next gen whipping boy prime? Sure seems that way. Could it be that fun is about to win out over hype, too? We can only hope.

with thanks to gaf

Instant Insomnia

Last night’s toe-to-toe Agassi/Baghdatis match came to a close around 1am, with rebel-now-statesman Andre once again defying the odds (and his sciatic nerve) to go the distance and outlast a much younger man. Phenomenal stuff.

As the players took their bows, I took poll of my neighbors. Normally nearly pitch black past midnight, the city was lit up with tennis fans. Gotta love that Flushing Meadows time of year.

(Now let’s all just ignore Team USA’s latest bungle, shall we?)





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