Meanwhile, in the Grammar Crisis room....

Friday, August 25, 2006

A strange interlude with a phantom

I had a strange experience while driving the other day - while going home, I passed a "Phantom Gourmet" truck.
For those of you not from the Boston area, the Phantom Gourmet is a restaurant critic. The brand has expanded to include radio bits and a TV show. However, the "Phantom" in the fellow's name implies he wishes to keep his identity secret. In fact, here's an excerpt from the Phantom Gourmet website:
The Phantom Gourmet is an anonymous restaurant critic who dines in disguise, never revealing his identity and always paying his own bills. That way, he serves up the most honest and trustworthy restaurant reviews possible. Other recognizable critics frequently get special food and service. Phantom forgoes these perks so that his restaurant experience will be similar to yours.

We are to assume, I guess, that driving around in a truck marked "The Phantom Gourmet" doesn't affect his anonymity. I wonder if he doesn't also wear a sandwich board poster saying "Yes, I am a restaurant critic."
Apparently, this Phantom's conditions on anonymity are nowhere near as good as those of the ghost-who-walks.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

MSN bitches about commercials, too

Apparently, I'm not the only one who complains vociferously about commercials: MSN has a piece up about the best and worst commercials of 2006.
Never mind the fact that we're in the middle of August (August, last I checked, was the 8th month, not the 12th), the writer names the "Headon" commercial as the worst of the year.
Really? Headon? Remember, this year saw the release of "Little Man." The ads for "Little Man" would ruin the appetite of a starving man.
Also borne from this year was the Taco Bell clown. That ad destroyed any chance of my ever eating at a Taco Bell again. In fact, I intend to purchase a franchise for the sole purpose of shutting it down. Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, you goddamned clown! (That is, if the clown owned a pipe, and if my rage could somehow manifest itself into a rank chunk of tobacco.)
Sure, the Headon commercial may annoy with repetition ("Headon! Apply directly to the forehead!"). It may even rankle some with its poor production values.
But is it a genuine sign of the apocalypse, like the face of a Wayans brother appearing on the body of a child? I think not.
MSN, consider yourself schooled.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Would a just and merciful God allow sequels to Jim Carrey movies?

Well, they finally went and did it - a second sequel to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective may be on the way. And without Jim Carrey. Apparently, Hollywood never learns. What makes this movie even more likely to suck is the fact that Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was absolutely horrible. Everything that made the first movie funny had been removed (well, except for Carrey), and the entire experience is painful.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who though Snakes on a Plane was worth a blog posting: both Taylor Long and Brian Drew have recountings of SoaP screenings. However, mine is the only one that mentions bees, so I win!

Bees? Plane? Samuel L. Jackson?

As we all know, Snakes on a Plane is now in theaters. However, the Wall Street Journal recently had an article about bees swarming planes and causing problems in the Southwest. Apparently, this real phenomenon occurs with the Africanized bee, commonly known as the "Killer Bee."
Does anyone else smell sequel?
A swarm of bees would be more than enough to draw the ire of Samuel L. Jackson, causing him to become goddamn sick of these mother-f'in bees! Bees are also naturally creepy, just like snakes!
Additionally, the movie would be able to use the based on true events tag, previously reserved only for movies about people from the wrong side of the tracks rapping their way to the top, or dedicated high school teachers who teach tough inner-city youths to learn, while simultaneously learning to be more "street."
Hollywoodland, call me!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dead Rising - About a week later

Bought the new 360 Game Dead Rising last week, but decided to let it age a bit before I posted about it.
What's good:
  • Zombies. And plenty of 'em. There are simply a ridiculous amount of zombies in the mall (what the hell is it, Christmastime or something?). This is really the first game that gives you anything close to the scope a full-scale undead outbreak would entail.
  • Weapons for eviscerating zombies. You are given an almost unlimited arsenal, and it's up to you to decide how you want to get rid of the zombie infestation.
  • Cool graphics. Frank and pals look real and, though the individual zombies are unremarkable, the mere number surely makes up for that.
What's bad:
  • Save system. Oh dear god, the save system. Hoofing it to a save point every time you want to save is a disastrous misstep on the part of the designers. I won't say too much about this one, as it's been done to death on the Internets.
  • Small text on SD TVs. Once again, has been a repeated complaint across Internet.
  • Sheer size of mall. Yes, the mall has to be huge to prevent the game from lapsing into repetitiveness, but given that most of the missions involve escorting civilians out of harm's way, this is a severe drawback. Also makes the save system even more intolerable.
What's odd:
  • Lack of quality control in Frank's world. Seriously, a lead pipe shouldn't give in so easily. Is there a complaints department in the mall?
  • Why does Frank use a wooden bat? Certainly, his traditionalism is welcome in a world obsessed with efficiency, but you have to think an aluminum bat would increase his chances for survival.
  • Weird nudity. It turns out one of Frank's shirts has a pic of a topless gal on the front. What's odder is I picked this shirt, and yet never noticed the pic until someone on the Internet posted it out, especially given that I can point out toplessness from three states away.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Even more commercial complaining

Last post, I discussed Taco Bell and it's pathetic attempt to encapsulate office life. In this post (part 3 in the series "Mike Gleason complains about everything"), I will talk about McDonalds and Burger King, and analyzing their attempts to stuff even more food down our gullets.
The new McD's commercials also take place inside an office, and feature people committing stupid errors because they missed "snacktime." Hence, we are encouraged to purchase McDonalds foods to avoid these missteps.
Now, my complaint doesn't center around the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of McDonalds foods, as that's a topic that's been done to death. My concern is that these office workers are sufficiently malnourished that going 4 or 5 hours without food leads to drastic mistakes. Does it take a helping of sugar every few hours to stave off dementia? Huh?
Really, the question is - does McDonald's even have to advertise at this point? I mean, we've all been to a McDonald's. Hell, we all probably live within three minutes of one. We all know precisely what we'll be getting if we go to a McDonald's. If we know all that, what the hell do we need advertising for?
Burger King commercials are also creepy in the Taco-Bell-clown sort of way. Chicken fries seem to be a bad enough idea, but do we really need a talking chicken going through (presumably) an identity crisis? Also, this might have gotten past the Burger King Quality Control people, but since chickens are female, shouldn't they have, well, female voices?
Ad people who convey chickens as male should go to that same circle of hell that's reserved for cartoonists who depict cavemen and dinosaurs coexisting.
...And that's my complaint of the day.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Yet more commercial ranting

Yes, I've returned for my monthly post (been really hoping to make this weekly, but busy as hell).
Now, to the abominations that are the new Taco Bell commercials.
Essentially, the ad involves people eating Taco Bell food in the office, and they are talking about how "fun" the food is. A clown (the office "fun guy") enters, and decries the fact that the food is more "fun" than he is.
The ad basically starts with a false premise: the people in the office are eating Taco Bell without immediately rushing to the nearest restroom. Also, who refers to food as "fun"? Really. "Fun"? There are two categories of food: stuff that tastes good, and stuff that doesn't. Fun doesn't enter into the equation.
The clown adds nothing. Never mind the subset of the population that is completely freaked out by clowns, but clowns are quite unappetizing - they taste funny (yes, I went there - to the lame cannibalism joke). Isn't there a more subtle way to denote that he is the office "fun guy"?
It's not like it's impossible to shoehorn office politics into fast food commercials - Burger King did a great job with the commercials that starred Joel McHale (from "The Soup" on E!).
In other news, t-sides blogger Taylor Long boasts about her hit counts. I am bitterly envious, as there is not a fraction small enough to represent my daily audience.
Also, wannabehipster blogs against fascism. So that's why he didn't like that "I love fascism" bumper sticker I sent him.

Ninety-Nine Nights Xbox Demo First Thoughts

I recently downloaded the demo for Ninety-Nine Nights (hereafter referred to as N3 for purposes of typing hand safety), the relatively-anticipated game for the 360. Unfortunately, the title doesn't really live up to the hype in any way.
The opening cutscenes are so badly written, acted and translated, it's hard to tell where one failure begins and another ends. Is the voice actor horrible, or is it that no one could pull of the line "La-Landslide" with a straight face? I feel there should be a name given to this phenomena, and I propose "George Lucas Syndrome." Think about it: is Hayden Christensen really a horrible actor, or were his lines so mind-numbingly awful that no actor could have done well?
The game itself (yes, I was getting there eventually) is nothing to write home about, either. The demo I played was horribly boring. If a game gets repetitive in the demo, then there are some serious issues. Of course, it's possible that the actual game will throw in a few change-ups, but isn't the demo supposed to showcase the best aspects of a videogame?
In essence, the game is similar to Dynasty Warriors. You, as leader of your army, face off against a legion of enemies - mowing them down with ease. Really, it just degenerates into pushing the same buttons over and over and over.
N3 is a really good-looking game, but it's a shame that the graphics don't translate to more fun.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dead Rising Demo First Thoughts

The demo of Dead Rising, the forthcoming Capcom Xbox 360 game, is now on Xbox Live. I tried it out, as I haven't killed nearly as many zombies as I thought I would have at this point in my life.
I thought it was extremely funny how the creators had to completely disavow any connection between the game and George Romero's Dawn of the Dead in a pre-title screen disclaimer. Zombies? In a mall? How anyone can connect that with Dawn of the Dead is beyond me.
In the game, you control Frank, a news photographer who resembles (to me, at least) a less-coked-up Quentin Tarantino. Searching for a story, he winds up trapped in a mall filled with mindless, flesheating zombies. It's up to you to ensure his survival.
The game does an excellent job of putting you in a "virtual sandbox" filled with zombies and ways to dispatch said zombies. It's fun to figure out new and exciting ways to dispatch the undead, and the mall is a quite accurate fascimile of an average American mall.
I have to say, the best part of this game is being able to kill zombies without the tired "wander slowly through empty areas trying to find a key" formula (I'm looking your way, Resident Evil). Also, the game renders a virtual army of zombies to fight, as opposed to a steady trickle of brain-chomping foes (once again, kicking Resident Evil's ass).
However, the real issue with this game will be longevity. Despite the many possible ways to play the game, Dead Rising feels like it could get repetitive very easily. There has to be something to back this zombie-killing up, or the game will get old fast.
Despite this, Dead Rising appears to be the closest videogame approximation of Dawn of the Dead to date. Look out for it August 8th. I know I will.