Monday, June 30, 2008

Editorial about GTA IV.

Junot Diaz has written an excellent editorial for the WSJ about GTA IV.

Funny Games (2008) dir. Michael Haneke

Funny Games (2008) is a movie you are either going to love or hate.

Personally I fucking hated this movie. I was so pissed off after watching it that it took me the rest of evening to not be pissed off. The original might be better but it will take a miracle for me to watch it.

I'm not even particularly sure why I hated this movie so much. It should have been a movie I enjoyed: a taut psychological thriller, a twisted home invasion, a turn of the camera on the viewer, holding up a mirror to show the audience that it's as blood thirsty and psychotic as the home invaders, dark humour, and a scathing denouncement of the fantasy life that the idle wealthy live. Perhaps Haneke's Funny Games (1998) hit these marks but his adaptation for the American Art House market failed miserably. For every moment that worked there were several that didn't. (2008) begins well enough and the pace works. There's an early moment of Watts in her Pottery Barn weekend country house kitchen, preparing dinner, chatting on the phone that is very well done. The sense of dread, of impending doom is excellent and there is no jump scare to spoil it. In fact I was enjoying the movie up until the home invasion really kicks in. Then it becomes a smug, smirking, self conscious, pretentious, and predictable let down.

Part of my anger was directed at everyone in the movie. The bad guys were a leering pair of Patrick Bateman knock offs. The family were useless upper class twats. They waste time trying to use their cell phone. The list of aggravations goes on.

Maybe I would have enjoyed this movie if it had come out in the days of Man Bites Dog. One critic called Funny Games (2008), "Funny Games is an art house Hostel -- it mistakes self-consciousness for intelligence." Personally I think David Edelstein's review makes the most sense to me.

LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures

LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures is exactly what you'd expect from the LEGO Series of games. Good nostalgic fun through an "E for Everyone" filter. If you have played any of the LEGO Star Wars then you'll know what I mean: goofy humor, fun level design, great secret characters, and revisiting classics in a way that breathes fresh air into them. Also Original means "A game based on the movies that didn't suck."

I enjoyed LEGO Indiana Jones more than I enjoyed the Star Wars installments but that's because I was always more of an Indiana Jones fan. The game revolves around the first three movies and visits familiar sites, characters, and John Williams' cues. The game play is pretty straight forward though there were a few points where I got stuck and had to say bad words. There are a lot of achievements to be had with the 360 version - I just don't know if care enough to chase down the rest of them. I am missing one last secret character but at this point there's not much point besides completion's sake.

There are a few downsides - minor complaints really.
  1. This is a complaint against all the LEGO series - your camera angles for platforming at times suck. Trying to jump onto a ledge that seems to be spot on but falling to your death - repeatedly - is annoying as shit. Granted this is a much more forgiving platformer/puzzle game than games in the past but still being hindered by the camera is getting to be unforgivable in this day and age.
  2. Unless you are a recreational gamer/are going to play this with your kids on game night/play twenty games at once or have a life don't buy this game for full price. This one is a weekend rental.
  3. Vehicle control is a nightmare or if not a nightmare then a pain in the ass. It's not intuitive and there were many times I ended up spinning around in circles or zooming off a Spielberg cliff.

I have to say that this is a fun game and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is a lot of style in the details. The character animations are pretty clever and varied. Henry Jones Sr. keeps hold of his hat when he runs and after putting down heavy items rubs his back - you practically hear the "oof". There are plenty of moments that I found myself quoting the movie - usually the next line in a scene. I once said, "This is intolerable!" after failing a jump. Free Play is a lot of fun after finishing a level. If I had kids I'd totally play this with them.

James Bond and The Modicum of Respite

Thanks to Mike for sending this along. Woo! Daniel Craig! Woo!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nacogdoches: We Got Trees Part 3

It's our second official day here in Nacogdoches and we are getting settled in. Have been doing the recon/shopping/oh crap we need a screwdriver routine. Made a rather disconcerting foray into the Uber-Walmart down the road. I don't know what my problem is but I get rather confused and over-stimulated in big box stores. All the lights and colors and mind numbing array of products have a "deer in headlights" effect on me. All I wanted was a cat crap tray and a Master Lock and ended up wandering lost through aisles of items I couldn't possibly justify using but wanted them any way. Guns! Ammunition! Fishing gear! Frisbees! Tennis rackets! Jumbo coolers I could stash hunks of drifters in! 600 varieties of "Institutional" sized pickles! Oh and the locks are in the back fucking corner of the store. So after choosing a lock I found myself in the toy aisles and there it was for $10.88:

Yeah baby. While assembling the set I realized that I should have been playing with LEGOs for the last ten years. There have been some serious advances in the LEGO field. Seriously. The next kit I want to pick up is this one:

* * *

Just a quick plug for All My Sons Movers. These guys were awesome. We hired them to help us move and they just rocked. I've used movers before and they were hired goons. All My Sons made things ridiculously easy and if it weren't for the fact that wires got crossed and we couldn't get in to the apartment it would have gone smooth as silk. Yeah, if you need movers these are the guys to go with.

Here are a few of the tricks we discovered during this move:

  1. All that paper lying around - the stack of over due bills and threats from debt collectors? - shred it and use it as packing material. None of our stuff that we packed this way broke.

  2. A la #1 phone books. You're never gonna recycle them. Don't bullshit yourself. Use it to wrap glasses and mugs and assorted trivets. It works.

  3. Don't throw out all the empty six-pack cardboard carriers. Use them for all that crap in your kitchen that is a major pain the ass to pack but won't throw out: bottles of hot sauce, spices, oils, vinegar, dried goods, condiments, jars of chile paste, and other assorted non perishable items. Load the six-packs up and put them in the box. I used flattened Lone Star boxes to layer and add additional packing.

  4. Don't drink so much that you can use beer packaging as packing material for an entire kitchen.

  5. Anti-depressants.

  6. Do your laundry before you pack.

  7. Pack a suitcase with a couple of days worth of clothes. Having a couple changes of clean dry clothes makes a world of difference.

  8. Play "We're going to Russia" and pack toilet paper.

I hope these tips are helpful.

* * *

Not too much else to currently report. I'm a bit behind on my gaming but have begun to rig up everything. Next step is setting up speakers and all that goodness.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nacogdoches - We got trees. Part 2.

Well folks we are here. It went 80% smoothly. There were a few moments of blind panic - like when we arrived expecting the landlord to have left the key - but all in all everything is a'ight. We'll be back in Austin this weekend and then pretty regular after that. Have some pictures of before and after the move. Here ya go:

Yeah, not much rhyme or reason but you get the gist. More news to follow. I think I need to take another nap.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Harman Kardon HKTS 14 6-Piece Loudspeaker System

I finally gave these speakers some legs and I'm impressed.  The other night put them through their paces.  Granted, I'll never be able to play them that loud ever again but woo.  The old Polks are amazing speakers and I'd love to keep them for the garage/workshop/dancehall but they never had the clarity these had.  If you're in the market for a boxed set of new speakers for a reasonable price I wholeheartedly recommend these.

Still getting used to Safari

If the layout or the fonts look a bit off then you'll just have to be patient.  I'm trying to get used to Safari and also trying to monkey a bit with the HTML.  A buddy of mine - cheers to you Mark - taught himself CSS and I think I'm gonna stick my toe in during my break.

If you have any suggestions - a la layout/colour/font I'd appreciate them.


Humuhumunukunukuapua'a is the Unofficial state fish of Hawaii.  The only reason that I know this is because of Sarah.  Whenever she says this we giggle uncontrollably.  In any case it's an interesting piece of trivia. 

The packing and moving prep is going according to plan.  We are now up to nearly thirty boxes of books.  I'm not sure why we're so surprised.  In car today Amanda asked if we wanted to stop by Half Price Books.  I said that we don't need any more books.  She replied, "Well we never need more books."

On one hand it's kind of daunting looking at all the crap we have to pack but realistically we don't have that much.  No fridge, no washer/dryer, no major appliances or accessories, and really not that much kitchen stuff.  I only had four boxes of CDs and three boxes of VHS.  You know, VHS, kind of like a cassette that has movies on it.

Whatever.  Humuhumunukunukuapua'a.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hooligan Youth Reviews is moving away. It is your fault, like when Mommy left Daddy.

We are moving from Austin, TX to Nacogdoches, TX on June 17th.

Fortunately we are not being run out of town by people with pitchforks and torches. Amanda and I are going to school in the Fall and will probably be living in a Kenmore box burning our collection of sci-fi for warmth by Winter.

Hooligan Youth Reviews will be on hiatus for a while. I am taking some time off from pretty much everything except sleeping, cooking, and gaming. With any luck I'll be able to catch up on my movie reviews and play some games that aren't GTA IV but I can't promise anything.

Drop us a line or give a call or send an email if you want.

Hope you are all well and we will be in touch ASAP.

Awesome article in The Onion.

The Onion has a very amusing article about GTA IV. Here is the link. Yes.

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