Nerd Notes for 02/01/2012

Over at my Livejournal I used to take various links I found and collate them all into a collection that I called “Nerd Notes”.  These links could contain anything from videogames to wrestling to movie trailers to news articles.  I have decided that it was an excellent concept and am migrating it now for use at Pop-Culture Spectrum.  This is just the first up many to come and allow me to relay lots of information in short bursts instead of full fledged reviews or articles when something may warrant it, but would take up ample time before getting the product information out there.

VIDEO GAMES

AGS Bake Sale: A collection of fully cooked to perfection games built inside of AGS and bundled for charity, it is available for $1.50 or more based on your choice of donation to Child’s Play.  If you are familiar with the Humble Bundle this is very similar but allows you to play games that are completely exclusive to this pack.  I have played portions of 9 Months In, Red Volition, Indiana Rodent and Abner so far and they are all excellent and worth the price.

Nurse Quest: This free pixel based point and click adventure developed by Robot Lizard for Adult Swim Games is hilarious, crafty and well constructed.  It isn’t a time waster though, so be ready to sit down for a good half hour to hour to enjoy the hilarity.

Da New Guys: Back in 2004 Chris Burton put out an AGS game built around an imaginary wrestling federation and a team known as “Da New Guys”.  It was a critical success and Burton also made a short animated feature with the characters called “For The Winnings” in Blender.  Announcement came of a game sequel but they were continually delayed.  Finally in 2012, Morton teams up with Wadjet Eye Games for “Day Of The Jackass”.  A demo is available.

MUSIC

Sumo Cyco:  Canadian sweetheart and former pop rock darling Skye Sweetnam first became a totally different type of artist with her colloberation “Action” recorded with Tim Armstrong and the bulk of her album, Sound Soldier, but the project she began in 2009 has started to become fully unleashed with 4 very disturbing videos and a sound one would never think that the girl who sang “Billy S.” would lead a band that covered Oingo Boingo along with some really hard metalesque rock..

All-American Rejects first official single “Beekeeper’s Daughter” off the forthcoming studio album “Kids on The Street” is available on iTunes.  I’ll be waiting for the entire album myself and hope that the entire project is a worthy successor to the phenomenal When The World Comes Down

A Stream of Paul McCartney’s forthcoming Kisses On The Bottom, a collection of old standards covered in only the way Sir Paul could.

COMICS

Jon Adams excellent Truth Serum had a tenth anniversary and posted a new strip, guest pin-ups and a cool contest in celebration.

Finally a list of books I plan to read and review in the very near future:
Fun & Games + Hell & Gone by Duane Swierczynski
Snitch by Booker T. Mattison
WinterTown by Stephen Emond

I shall also being doing an over of all 22 issues of the Marvel comic Agents of Atlas + the Gorillia-Man miniseries written by Jeff Parker.

An overview of the new iPod/iPhone/iPad App and web series Totally Amp’ed is also planned.

Posted in Nerd Notes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Nerd Notes for 02/01/2012

Animated Shorts of the 84th Academy Awards (and more)

My concentration on the Oscars each year is focused in one section primarily, the animated shorts. While I tend to only concern myself with the five nominated features I have in the past also made an effort to check out the short listed films as well, sometimes the best film isn’t exactly the ones that got nominated. That is not the case this year, but all of the short listed films that did receive a nomination this year deserve notice and recognition.

This category has been a part of the Academy since the fifth incarnation of the awards ceremony, but for many of those years the field was dominated by Walt Disney, Warner Bros. and MGM. In the 60’s a change began as foreign works began to be nominated as well smaller productions. In 1974 when the award officially became Short Films (Animated Films), known before as Short Subjects (Cartoons) it also took a special change as that year Will Vinton won with the very psychedelic Closed Mondays that he animated with Bob Gardiner. It was not the first time an unusual or abstract toon had won the award, in 1965, a very simplistic The Dot and The Line took home the award and two years prior the similar in animation style The Critic and even going back to 1959’s Moonbird, an abstraction of style based on a radio recording. The win of Will Vinton though would usher in a whole new field to award, which would embrace all kinds of animation. Pixar’s second film Luxo Jr. was also its first nominated and its fourth Tin Toy was its first win in 1988, its 5th and 6th shorts would also win in 1997 and 2000. Amazingly they have not won the award since, but have had a short up for nomination in every year they produced one theatrically since, except for 2009 when Partly Cloudy got nodded out. That push outprobably came from the nomination of  the most  recent at the time Wallace & Gromit short b y Nick Park, 3 time winner of this award with 2 other nominations.

Throughout 2000-2010 there has been everything in the nominations from CGI to traditional animation. Claymation, conceptual, new technology, it has run the gamut and from every conceivable country. Before breaking into this year’s nominees for the 84th Ceremony I’ll be quickly listing some of my personal favorites, with some information and links to a trailer, official website or the ability to see the cartoon yourself (in some cases all). These have been either winners or nominees and nothing unlisted is meant as a snub. These are just my personal aesthetics.

Previous favorites
The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello: Presented to be the first chapter to a long reaching four episode arc that would also include a feature film, the project has seemed to stop at this short. A combination of hi definition vehicles & backgrounds and shadow style minimalist animation with stark design & flourish combined with amazing story telling made it quite a joy. There is a DVD version available with many extras, but fortunately there is also a lower quality edition available for viewing on Youtube.

OKTAPODI: A production out of Gobelins L’Ecole de L’Image, this a simple love story about two octopus or possibly squids done in CGI that was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever seen and to know it was was developed by people who at the time were still “students”  amazes me.

Strange Invaders: Cordell Barker is easily one of the funniest animators to ever create. A two time academy award winner, first in 1988 with The Cat Came Back and again with this, there is something quite infectious about his work. It is a very gruff art style indeed, but undeniable in its quality.

Granny Ogrimm’s Sleeping Beauty: Based on the comedy of Irish stand-up Kathleen O’Rourke who voiced the titular character, this maniacally hilarious short is simple and sweet… well not sweet exactly and comb. It combined CGI with a storybook like flat animation for an amazing look.

Logorama: One of the most intriguing pieces to not only be nominated but win this award, the incorporation of quality music and story is what makes what could be what a design student made as a thesis into high quality art created by a masterful studio.

The Lost Thing: Last year’s winner shows what can truly be achieved with the short film animation format, narrated by comedy musician Tim Minchin it tells a fairly “large” story adapting a children’s book that is not so simple.

Short Listed for 2011/84 Academy Awards
Cul de Bouteille: This magical adventure uses traditional animation with a very sketch-like style to tell a fantastic little tale. It is a darling French toon and worth seeing if you find it.

Paths of Hate: Looking almost like a Motion Comic and/or Animatic this very charged action short shows how violent and atrocious war can truly be.

Magic Piano: This short was developed by the team behind award winning Peter & The Wolf as a commission to Chopin’s birthday and was used for the The Flying Machine, a feature film which the team worked on as well, staring Heather Graham. As the film is more a collection of shorts combined into a feature to display famed pianist Ling Ling performing Chopin I don’t think it’ll make it to America outside of arthouses and maybe a DVD, but one can hope. Although as the short didn’t make final nominees possibly not.

Lumaris: This is a very different kind of animation. I didn’t get to see the entire thing , but it is very intriguing in its style, although I feel it belongs more in Live Action even if it is a type of animation, using real photographs of humans for stop motion is an original way to create.

I Tawt I Taw Puddy Tat: A new high quality CGI animation over Mel Blac’s 1950 recording of the hilarious composition. One is planned for Daffy’s Rhapsody as well, although who knows with not getting an Oscar nod here. I have to assume shortlisting is enough merit to continue a project for a major studio.

Nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Short Films (Animated)
Daminche/Sunday: Simply animated with nothing but grunts this feels like a vaudevillian silent film. A very small story about an average Sunday that turns out to be nothing but ordinary for one young man. Animator Patrick Doyon previously worked on the program Station X and has a background in illustration.

Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore: The first work from acclaimed storyteller and academy award winner William Joyce’s new production company Moonbot Studios is an amazing piece of animation, and equally as a film itself. Mesmerizing in tone, scope and concept, it is easily my personal favorite of the category that I have been able to see in full. The entire making of is really worth seeing as well.

A Morning Stroll: I haven’t been able to see this one, just a very short trailer and some screen shots, but it looks impressive and a combines all the talents of director Grant Orchard with minimalism, illustration and CGI.

Wild Life: This painted style animation tells the story of a young British early 1900’s America Canada. It was directed and animated by Amanda Forbus & Wendy Tilby who have previously been nominated for the award.

Pixar’s La Luna: The one that most won’t see till it officially premieres with BRAVE, but did show at some theatre in 2011 to be submitted for nomination. I am excited for this one as it was designed and directed by Enrico Casarosa, whom I became a fan of through his comics work published in FLIGHT. I’d only hope for La Luna to win so that folks like Enrico can make more shorts and possibly Scott Morse will be able to do an original short of his own conception as well.

Interesting side note: Two of the nominated shorts feature a Pork pie hat and in one the hat is an important player like in old silent films (mostly because the lead character is based on Buster Keaton).

POSTSCRIPT:

In 1996 all four of the nominated films were of extremely different conceptual styles and innovations in animation in abstract, claymation and CGI.

They were as follows:


Quest: A very abstract puppetry, written and produced by Thomas Stelbach and directed by Tyron Montgomery. Stelback now works in commercial films throughout Germany and Montgomery works in visual effects.

CanHead: Stop motion animation by Tim Hittle which at the time used innovative new techniques in filiming and developing. He is currently an animator at Pixar.

La Salla: A computer generated animation by Richard Condie, it was the long time traditional abstract comedian’s first CGI toon.

Wat’s Pig: Claymation by Peter Lord, the co-founder of Aardman, home to Nick Park’s works. There is a high quality built for full screen viewing available on iTunes.

Posted in TV and Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Animated Shorts of the 84th Academy Awards (and more)

Law & Order’s Legacy Continues in Interactive Format

I was twelve years old when Law & Order began its long run on NBC. The show didn’t really hit its stride till the late great Jerry Orbach joined the cast in the second season along with S. Epatha Merkeson in my personal opinion and truly didn’t reach excellence till Sam Waterson joined as Jack McCoy. All that can be easily argued, but suffice it to say I’ve been a fan since day one. Criminal Intent was quickly my favorite show because of the awesomeness of D’Onofrio’s Goren and Kathryn Erbe’s Eames, but SVU always held my interest through and might actually top CI as a favorite with Meloni’s Stabler, Hartigay’s Benson and Wong’s Dr. Huang. Through the new shows though I still always loved the original and it’s various pairings. Logan was the original guy, but once teamed with Brisco he just reached levels of awesomeness and anyone who teamed with Lennie was automatically awesome, especially Rey Curtis. The way they wrote Benjamin Bratt’s character out was tragic, but the return to who he was in 2009 was just as tragic and never had any followup.

All this build up brings us to be able to discuss the new Telltale game for iOS and eventually PC, Law & Order: Legacies. Written and developed by Ryan Kaufman with production from Dave Felton, the game attempts to actually create in many a season of Law and Order that could’ve made it to the airwaves, alongside the fantasy of stories never told. It’s definitely a professional approved fan fiction, but it’s a well done one with creativity and an attempt at as much accuracy as possibly allowed by the production’s budget and limits. I found it interesting that Arie Kaplan who worked on the HOUSE M.D. games and is an accomplished journalist worked on Episode 2.

Unlike Telltale’s Back To The Future which featured the talents of original BTTF stars Christopher Lloyd, and Claudia Wells, the Law & Order game were not able to procure talent such as Benjamin Bratt, S. Epatha Merkeson, or Linus Roach among others such as obviously the dearly departed Jerry Orbach. Yet despite this, between quality voice acting and top notch art, the original actors are surely missed, but do not result in causing a distraction. Among the talent are voice over actress Cissy Jones, poet/musician Kid Beyond who has worked for Telltale previously, musician/voice actress Rashida Clendening, and many of the people who have worked with Telltale on other productions. The one voice they were able to retain was Steve Zirnkilton, the Voice of Law & Order, as well as that pretty critical Mike Post composition.

In playing this I had really wanted to replay the Vivendi/Legacy Law & Order games which had the use of the real actors, but as I remembered featured mail it in performances as well as writing and tons of bugs, yet, I wanted to try and do a track record of these type of games, as well as comparing them to Telltale’s CSI games. Yet in terms of style, content and conception, Legacies is its own entity based much more in paying attention to clues and having a good eye, while the previous games were based more in choosing the right random dialogue tree and beating annoying minigames like tile, match and also match and sometimes peck and hunt.

While I’ve only gotten to play the first two episodes, I wanted to reflect on the plot as there was a real attempt here to create something original here. The game in the first episode seems to take place shortly after season 12 and before Season 13. Detective Rey Curtis after a few years since his wife’s passing in 2009 and moving back to NYC is prompted by his daughters to return to the force instead of moping around. He someone gets automatically put back on the 27th Precinct run by Lt. Van Buren where he and Lennie Briscoe partnered. His first case in which he hasn’t been given a partner is a murder which also turns up rape evidence, Detective Benson from the 16th is called up to join the investigation as her partner is “on leave”, which is probably Benson not wanting to accept that Elliot actually quit, that is the only thing that makes sense unless Ryan Kaufman messed up his L&O timelines . That now gives us the Legacy of two major L & O characters becoming temporary partners on a major case, which once the suspect was revealed probably should’ve been turned over to Goren and Eames, but that’s splitting hairs. That case takes a quick left turn during trial and it is up to Michael Cutter and Abby Carmichael to clean up the mess. This must be before Cutter ends up as the new Bureau Chief of ADAs who work on SVU cases. A sidenote in the story reveals a connection between this case and a cold case Briscoe and Curtis worked on years ago.

In chapter two we are sometime between 1995 and 1999, probably closer to 99 based on the statement that the cold case took place 10 years ago from the first episode’s story, although for the time line to work it had to be at least 11-12 years ago, but one can say I’m nitpicking. This is an untold case of Briscoe and Curtis looking into the possible murder of a young father who died steps from his door step. The investigation follows all logical steps and Jack McCoy and Abby Carmichael have to use everything they can to convict in a case that isn’t not exactly as clear cut as one would hope. During the episode we discover a little more information on the Cold Case mentioned in Episode one and that it wasn’t just cold but closed, and that Lennie had been working on it on his own time. I spoil this information here so that fans and potential gameplayers who have yet to try the game out are aware there is an over arching storyline which seems to promise that while each episode is playable on its own, the full purchase will be definitely worth it.

Plot out of the way a very quick discussion of gameplay. So far the game is broken into two sections much like the TV show. We open with an investigation which includes listening to answers, hearing stories and a bit of a “find the item” type of minigame which actually has some thought put into it and allows for some cool looking backgrounds. The questions section will ask at certain points if you believe someone or feel you’ve caught them in a lie or that information provided was accurate and if you answer that correctly, a multiple choice will ask you the why of the answer. These mulptiple choices can be tricky as they can be worded incorrectly. Getting an answer wrong won’t end your game, but it may lead to a different result when it comes to the trial. Once all investigations are done, you go into court room mode. Here when interviewing a witness on the stand it is much like the interview investigations, but the twist comes in the properly placing objections and doubt when the defense is up at bat. There is also a closing arguments segment where you must properly choose what subjects to bring up. There are chances of losing, winning by jury or even offering a plea bargain which allows multiple gameplays just to see those scenes play out.

While I have not yet played the just released episode 3 which introduces Detective Logan to the story as returning to the force after quitting Major Case, trying out the real world and deciding he had to be a homicide detective, I definitely look forward to it and seeing where else the game and story go. Maybe with four episodes to go we might even get appearances from Lupo or Munch. Since this game was supposed to originally be a Law & Order: L.A. game there’s a chance will get a cameo from Connie Rubierosa who has decided that California just wasn’t doing it for her. Either way Telltale has shown that they can handle telling original stories, with gameplay that should be acceptable for all levels of gameplayers from the beginners to the veterans and a plotline that should be satisfying to all levels of fans of Law & Order as well.

Posted in Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

FAVORITE CONSOLE GAMES of 2011

Back to the Future-The Game: With Bob Gale along as a supervisor, Mike Stemmle and Andy Hartzell, a fourth Back to the Future movie was realized. One just needs to completely ignore most of Back to the Future: The cartoon to enjoy it. It’s a very easy game, making it much more an interactive story than an adventure game, but that seems to be what TellTale is going for these days based on Law & Order: Legacies which is really well done, but very easy. What makes BTTF: The Game so special of course is Christopher Lloyd. His inclusion on voicing Doc takes this from a fun detour into a real project worthy of favorite.

Catherine: This Japanese Tetris like game has a lot going for it. While the majority of the gameplay is simply a hardcore variation on Tetris, Bejeweld, etc. it has an overlapping story with adventure game elements holding it together. Combined with absolutely stunning anime sequences produced by Studio 4°C (who incidentally did the anime sequences for one of my favorite games of all time Rogue Galaxy) and soundtrack of classical tunes remixed by Shoji Meguro, it is an amazing entry into video gaming and a game changer of what is capable in terms of basic being innovated.

Fight Night Champion: I have gotten to play the Champion mode of this game (by choice), but as a compelling original boxing tale with awesome combat controls it was one of the best experiences I have had with a video game. As a movie with interactive elements its actually on top as that, with a great script from Oscar nominated Will Rokos, good voice acting including video game veteran and popular actress Elisha Dushko, really quality realistic animation and the fact that’s its based in boxing really gives it an edge and I can see myself coming back to it even in years to come.

Infamous 2: Between Uncharted 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Skyrim it seems like the second chapter of Sucker Punch’s two games in one super hero saga has been forgotten. In the second game we get an even more realized and cooler world in a New Orleans-esque town. Cooler enemies with the zombie vampire like swamp creature horde and a more intriguing story with continuations of the first game but giving us now two protagonists, two sides to choose from and your special sidekick. Infamous 2 was everything Infamous was and more. Throwing in the ability to create your own levels or play user created levels, a first for a third person action adventure game on a console where the developer actually approved and helps distribute the mods, it was a gem among the horde.

L.A. Noire: The story in L.A. Noire and the acting is top notch, as is the clue gathering, the conversations. It’s a great conceptual answer to an interactive version of a 1940’s cop film with as much accuracy as allowed, with some intriguing twists of inaccuracy, because really… a fully realized game would probably be boring. The characters are fully realized, not just by the performances that the technology developed for the game allows, but by the actual writing itself. Alongside Quantic Dream’s David Cage, I see former Team Bondi’s Brendan McNamara one of those videogame writer/director’s who will create very few, but very powerful, interesting, critically popular games full of strong script, concept and final product. L.A. Noire was the Heavy Rain of 2011 and more people got to play it, since Heavy Rain was a PS3 exclusive and still is.

Yakuza 4: The latest iteration of the Yakuza series before they went “Kill Zombies” in the next game lost some of its flavor by telling four different stories from four different characters instead of just focusing on The Dragon, but it gained another flavor and various techniques of intrigue. Four characters means four fighting styles, four different personalities and four different side missions. Some of them are huge side missions which I have to believe you can work on when you beat the whole thing, because I have not got that far yet. This is a huge epic game with more options of things to even more so than Yakuza 3. Training fighters, bowling tournaments, parkour challenges, fishing, more food to learn about, more drinks to discover, fishing, bating cages with better technique, and just so much more, more, more.

BONUS iOS

Jetpack Joyride: Hardcore addicting and adorable, the most recent Barry Steakfries game which is probably a prequel has no ending, you just keep playing, then you die and you try again. I don’t think there’s an end at least. Maybe there’s a way you can reach the super end if you unlock everything and spend extra money to get coins… I don’t know. I do know it’s super addictive and really fun. It’s currently still free so if you an iPhone or iPad I’d go grab it.

Where’s My Water?: Disney Mobile’s first original game and the game that actually beat out Angry Birds for top selling iTunes App Store game may be considered a cheap choice especially with my console favorite choices, but in terms of iOS games compared to video games, sales do generally mean quality and proof of concept. Some of my favortie games of all time in all history were definitely not the best selling, or even critically best, but they are my favorites. Swampy is adorable, he’s so adorable he’s getting an original web series in a couple days.

Posted in Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cloak & Dagger (a further review of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows)

My favorite part of Sherlock Holmes: A Book of Shadows involved a flip book. My second favorite scene involved nudity. My third favorite scene involved tons of explosions and some truly fine editing and cinematography.

I’m not sure who the flipbook was made by, but I’m guessing in terms of concept it must;ve been Guy Ritchie or The Mulroney’s idea.

In terms of that film work though, one can Philippe Rousselot, a french photographer/cinematographer who has worked since the 1970s, has won an Oscar, various BAFTA’s and even directed the Cannes’ Palme D’Or nominated Serpent’s Kiss. He also filmed the first Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes.

I can’t really discuss the nudity without giving something away. Some will hate it, others will applaud, some will find it out of character, others will be able to make the argument that it is in character. I mean there are arguments that can easily be made on both sides for the entirety of Guy Ritchie’s version of Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doye’s writing style was always designed to be open for interpreation. Although the ones who argue that it isn’t, obviously don’t even understand what the hell they’re talking about and I’d be willing to go fisticuffs with any fool who thinks otherwise. Oh and I can assure you I know how to win, but I can’t say how they’ll lose. It could be many ways, broken nose, shattered shoulder, broken solar plexus.

Off my proverbial high horse I truly enjoyed Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, equally as I enjoyed the first film, the Mulroney’s wrote a fine script which based on credits wasn’t doctored. I’ll be buying this one on bluray and probably will watch it anytime it shows up on HBO like I do with the first. Is it a high class film? No, it’s a perfect “popcorn” flick but with a tinge of intelligence so as to make it above the cut.

Posted in TV and Movies | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Favorite Movies of 2011

Rango: Gore Verbinkski’s animated western affair was a total delight to the eyes. Accompanied by an amazing soundtrack and perfectly well done jokes, I loved every moment of it. I was sorely disappointed when the blu-ray came out without the one component I felt it surely needed though. The film was made by having the actors actually perform the entire film on a soundstage as if it were play. Snippets of this were seen in the trailers and I was really hoping to see the entire version of this, but alas. So as much as I loved RANGO, that hurt it’s long term love for me. It’s an awesome film though.

Take Me Home Tonight: I was not expecting to enjoy this. After the debacle of other films that tried to recapture that 80’s spirit or the concept of the insane night of partying, I never thought there was a chance I could like this. Yet it came on to HBO and I quickly got entranced by Topher Grace. On That 70’s Show he was probably my least favorite, but he’s evolved a bit and he has a strange mix of Jason Bateman and Michael J. Fox in him. Anna Faris didn’t hurt here either and having Demetri Martin, Bob Odenkirk and Michael Ian Black in important cameo roles really helped.

Hobo With A Shotgun: Holy hell was this a sick freaking film. It was way better than it ever deserved to be, one can of course thank the cast for that, because the film itself actually isn’t really good. The gore effects are fun and the violence is excellent, but the writing is garbage, the oversaturated film stock effect and scratches to make it “grindhouse” worked against it visually and the nudity was really luke warm. Rutger Hauer, Trailer Park Boy’s Robb Wells and Rookie Blue’s Gregory Smith really help bring it from waste of film to worthwhile fun viewing.

Hanna: This flick just blew me away and I had hyped myself up huge for it too. I got to hear Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Joe Wright talk about the film, the intense training and the setup of film making at the New York Comic Con in 2010 and everything really geared me up for it. I was not disappointed in the least. It is not a perfect film by any means, but it is amazingly shot, Saoirse is a joy to behold and there are elements that just make it an infinitely a watchable flick that I can see myself returning to over and over.

Beginners: Quite possibly my favorite film of the year. I recently watched it again and I loved it all over again, reassuring my previous feelings and thoughts. It actually jumped ahead of its previous spot in this rewatch. Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer truly deserve Oscar nominations for this film. Mike Mills is a horrible artist, but he is an amazing story teller and film maker. Listening to the commentary track and hearing him point out things that definitely made the film better but that even my trained eye missed because I was too attached and pulled into the narrative turned the film into not just a heartwarming tale, but a real mastery of cinema for me.

Captain America: If anything has come close to really being a quality live action adaptation of a comic book, it has to be the Markus & McFeely written, Joe Johnston directed The First Avenger. It hit all the right notes of feeling like a comic book literally translated from the page to the screen. I of course am not trying to discount Sin City here, that is a remarkable film but that fells more like recreation than adaptation in my mind. This film borrows from the comics without actually fully just recreating them as live action sequences. Plenty of quality inside jokes, awesome action, conceptual changes that fit the Marvel Movie universe better and not that he’d ever get acknowledged but Hugo Weaving deserves an Academy nomination.

Hugo: One of the most stunningly visual films in years, Martin pours every inch of himself on to the screen. You can tell he loves Méliès as much as Brian Selznick, if not more so. John Logan did almost a pitch perfect script adaptation of the book which Martin painstakingly tried to envision on screen. He made the decision to use Brian’s art as full inspiration for the look and feel of the film and it showed through every sequence. It was filmed in 3D, although this was not necessary to make an a good film, it ended up allowed for effects 2D imagery would not allow, such as seeing an eye through a clock, the inside of the clock and at the same time what the flock sees… the intricacies of the new 3D technology which also allows for hologram like effects was amazing on the big screen. I am actually worried how this one will translate/did translate to 2D. I’ll discover when it comes to dvd/blu ray since I don’t own a 3D TV and won’t for a long time. The performances in this are fabulous as well, Ben Kingsley dazzles, but Chloe Grace Moretz and the young Asa Butterfield are the the film and rightfully so.

The Muppets: I went in with trepidation and not all my fears were uncured, there are a hell of a lot of flaws in this film. Flaws that one could say “It’s a ‘Muppet’ movie, why are you trying tear it apart?” but I’d return with “It’s also a Jason Segel script, who is an intelligent writer and works on one of the most continuity driven shows on television, he should know better, but I do realize Bobbin and Thomas might’ve been the derailers (sic)”. So it’s really not a perfect film, but it is Muppets and Whitmire and Goelz really tried to keep the magic alive. Also, “Muppet of a Man” is one killer freaking song. The actual episode of The Muppet Show Special in the film is quite special as well.

Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows: I utterly adored the first Guy Ritchie version of Holmes. Every element of it. The acting, the story telling, the cinematography, the action, the music, the set design, the costumes. In Game of Shadows, the only factor that goes in a much different design and direction is story telling, but it’s applicable to the story they are telling. This movie is less about an actual mystery and sleuthing, but about about precognition, notice, strategy and fore thought. While the first film showed the Holmes that would inspire a Gregory House or Adrian Monk who breaks down the mystery as he goes along or ties it all together at the end, this time we see the side of him that inspired characters like Sean Spencer and Patrick Jane who see the plot as it unfolds and is always one step ahead of the villain. I’ve already written another review of the film which explores it differently and expands why I loved it, but I felt here I’d speak from another point of view.

Posted in TV and Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Favorite Movies of 2011

Console Games scheduled for 2012 that catch my attention

Be aware that I like puzzle games, adventure games and third person action adventure games with platforming.

I Am Alive: An Ubisoft productiion, the trailer shows an awesome combination of platforming, third person action, puzzles, first person shooting and more. Currently scheduled for XBLA and PSN. The game looks a bit big for digital release, but maybe that’s a good thing.

Hitman-Absolution: After watching a nail biting gameplay sequence on the official website showing awesome stealth, timing and shooting mechanics I am totally sold on the first ever PS3 Hitman.

Devil May Cry: As developer Ninja Theory will not be doing a sequel to Enslaved, seeing their work continued in some fashion in a fascinating looking game is what I’ll settle for. I have no connection to the DMC games, so a reboot is right up my alley.

Papo & Yo : Another digital only, this time PSN only, has amazing art and gameplay with seems puzzles meet third person adventure.

Tomb Raider: No gameplay has shown up for the reboot, but I trust in the company to create another excellent game full of everything I like.

Max Payne 3: I’ve been a fan since day 1, got Payne on XBox and PC and Payne 2 on PC. Got to see what they’re doing with Payne 3 at New York Comic Con and I was sold.

The Last of Us: Sure no gameplay yet, but it’s Naughty Dog and it has a great cast. Also from what I understand one of the main guys who worked on Enslaved spearheaded this.

A.M.Y.: Sure it’s ANOTHER zombie survival horror game, but it’s a PSN title and it’s made by the man who gave us Flashback all those years ago.

Inversion: Third person shooter with physics tricks and gameplay? Yes please and thank you.

Neverdead: Ever since the first gameplay of this I was on board. You’re body can fall apart and then you find it and as you gather a body part you can keep fighting and you can just keep getting your arm or leg ripped off and just grab it again but shoot with the other arm? Plus the story trailer was hilarious!

Lollipop Chainsaw: Hot chick, super awesome graphics, extreme violence, 3rd person action and Suda51? Ok!

Journey: thatgamecompany has not disappointed. Cloud, flOw and Flower were three very different but amazing games and I look forward to seeing what they’re latest which has had a much longer development time can bring.

Testament of Sherlock Holmes: Frogwares has been doing Sherlock games for the PC for a long time now, with interesting and original stories in the Holmes tradition including having him go against Jack the Ripper and Arsène Lupin. This will be the fifth game in the series and the first to be designed with PS3 and XBox in mind. They upgraded their gengine from scratch and look to have retained/returned to their more popular third person camera with first person probably now being the optional camera view. I’ve actually gotten to enjoy these games and feel they have a good handle on the character. While all renditions of Holmes have their incencretities, these are some of the funnest next to the BBC modern show and the Guy Ritchie films.

Silent Hill-Downpour: Traditionally the Silent Hill games have caused me frustration more than anything, but the latest version is from a brand new developer and is just using the premise of the Silent Hill ghost town to tell another survival horror action adventure. With IDW editor and Silent Hill comics writer Tom Waltz on story duties and music from Dan Licht.

Binary Domain: An action shooter from the producer of the Yakuza games and the producer of Vanquish? There seems to be some innovative squad based actions as well, yet still all in single player third person mode… so basically like elements from the Mass Effect games, but with a different fundamental. The videos for this look awesome.

Posted in Video Games | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Console Games scheduled for 2012 that catch my attention

Tributes to the Fallen 2011 Collected Post

As promised in Part 1 here is a post quickly linking you to each section so you can easily find them till well the next time I create an entry which should be soon.

Part 1 (Comic Books and Artists)

Part 2 (Wrestlers, MMA, Boxing)

Part 3 (Musicians)

Part 4 (Video Games, Authors, Personalities)

Part 5 (Actors, Directors, Composers, Crew)

Posted in Tributes to the Fallen | Comments Off on Tributes to the Fallen 2011 Collected Post

Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 5

This is the final of my tributes to the people who have passed this year, as with the rest  it is broken down alphabetically and the age of the person and their cause is in parentheses after.  In this final part I focus on the media entertainment industry, the field I have the most connection with.  There are sparse links here, but lots of indepth writing and analysis.

FILM and TELEVISION (Actors, Producers, Directors, Music, Crew)

James Arness (88- natural causes): For over 20 years, James Arness was one tough man, Marshall Matt Dillon (the cowboy, not the actor). For more than 5 years before that he appeared in Western films and amazingly as The Thing in the original adaptation of “Who Goes There?” by John Campbell and also as The FBI agent in Them! It’s of course notable to mention that James’ younger brother was Peter Graves, another brilliant actor who got known as another tough sonofagun IMF Agent, Jim Phelps, who unfortunately passed away in 2010.

Trevor Bannister (76- heart attack): This comedic actor who also appeared in lots of theater productions would probably be only known to fans of British comedy and most especially to fans of “Are You Being Served?” as he appeared as a major player in over 40 of the 69 episodes. He made appearances in other British programs including a run on the longest running sitcom in Britain, Last of the Summer Wine.

John Barry (77- heart attack): A true music master, a classical music legend living in modern times, he composed and orchestrated some of the most amazing music ever heard by ears everywhere. He made movies larger than life and gave them breath they didn’t have before him. Widely known as composing for James Bond films it is the work he did for movies such as Born Free, Dances With Wolves, Out of Africa and Midnight Cowboy that mesmerizes my ears and senses.

Jeff Conaway (60- complications of drug use): The true star of Grease and the main reason Taxi had something really touching and personal, at least for me personally. This particular scene in Taxi back before his drug abuse caused the writers and directors to completely not follow up this brilliance is a personal favorite.  Jeff was a man of immense talent, spirit and energy. On top of being the original Kenickie he also played Zuko for awhile on Broadway, but Kenickie and his story always resonated with me for some reason. Of course so did Bobby Wheeler. It is of course quite unfortunate that Jeff will be as remembered for his film and TV work as his appearance on the entertaining garbage of celebreality. I hope in years to come that part of his career is wiped clean and his amazing voice and quality artistic talent is what is praised and memorized.

David Croft (89- natural causes): Co-creator of ‘Allo, Allo, Are You Being Served?, this former soldier turned writer and producer is one of the most important individuals in sitcom television alongside his writing partners. There is no doubt that much of what was created and developed on the shows of his creation inspired not only British comedy, but American sitcom comedy for years and years to come.

Frank DiLeo (63- complications of surgery): Music executive and manager, famous on screen for Tuddy in Goodfellas and Frankie “Mr. Big” Sharp in the Wayne’s World flicks. His existence as a character definitely gave Chris Farley the funniest segment in the first Wayne’s World film.

Ryan Dunn (34- car crash): Stunt man, extreme sports enthusiast, and daredevil, the right hand man to Bam Margera and one of the stars of Jackass. One could say Ryan wasn’t playing with a full deck of cards, especially since he died stunt racing while highly intoxicated (read, drunk off his rocker) in the approximate same spot where he almost killed himself and Bam Margera while sober in 1996 with a roll. His loss was still felt though and his friends and fans cried their hearts out at the loss.

Peter Falk (83- complications of Alzheimer’s): I was never a fan of Columbo, but Peter Falk has contributed to so many other things that I did and do love. Be it as the grandfather and narrator in The Princess Bride or he starring roles in Arthur Hiller’s The In-Laws and John Cassavete’s Big Trouble and even the quirky Jeff Goldblum/Cyndi Lauper Vibes I have no choice to admit I admire and respect him as an actor, personality and presence.

Anne Francis (80- cancer): One of the most beautiful and popular actresses of the 1950’s, she became a perennial character actress through the 60’s and worked regularly until the late 90’s in film and television. In 1965 she starred in her own detective show, Honey West, the first show of its kind.

Michael Gough (94- illness/natural causes): Highly talented character actor whose fame was mostly in England he has held many notable roles, including appearing in some classic Hammer films. What a strange coincindence to lose three major players of Hammer in one year including writer James Sangster and director Don Sharp. Michael Gough went on from Hammer films to perform on Doctor Who, and many other minor, small but important film roles. To most he will be remembered as Alfred Pennyworth in the 90’s Batman films, which featured three different Batmen, two Harvey Dents, but one and only one Alfred. Beyond that he continued to work in various roles up until 2010. One of those actors who faces and voice you can’t forget.

Yoshio Harada (71- pneumonia during cancer): Only known to fans of Japanese cinema as he never made the American transition, he was one of those go to guys for some of the most classic Japanese films that are lesser known Internationally other than to those who truly follow. Nonetheless, his impact on cinema appearing in films greatly loved by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and Quentin Tarrantino can not be ignored.

David Hess (75- heart attack): Musician, song writer, and actor. Cult film fans would recognize him as Krug from The Last House on the Left. He also wrote the songs, Speedy Gonzalez made famous by Pat Boone and Come Along made famous by Elvis Presley.

Wyatt Knight (56- suicide by gun): Best known as the badboy Tommy from the Porky’s series, this marginally successful young actor decided to end his own life after years of pain from treatment for cancer.

Andrew Laszlo (85- undisclosed): This photographer turned cinematographer made movies beautiful. As DP on such classics as The Warriors, First Blood and Newsies, his understanding of light, color, scenery, shadow, exposure and more helped bring to life these films in exhilarating ways. He seemed to had retired in 1992 after Newsies, a damn shame.

Len Lesser (88- pneumonia): This consistent and steady character actor worked since the 50’s, appearing in so many shows, westerns and stage productions it’s almost a shame, his “fame” as it would be didn’t come until playing Leo on “Seinfeld” and then Garvin of “Everybody Love’s Raymond”. A man with such screen presence and such a voice should’ve been a major player, the lead or co-starring in a sitcom long before, not just one part here, one part there, but that’s acting and that’s the acting life. Sometimes, despite talent and constant work, the big break never comes and the small break comes late in life. You take what you can get, feh… which is probably how Len Lesser thought and what he brought to his most famous role.

Sidney Lumet (86- lymphoma): Hands down one of the greatest directors of all time, period. It seems pointless to discuss him, this is a point where a career is truly understood by discussing selections of his filmography. I must note that on top of these films I’ll mention there were many more including incredible film adaptations of plays, including the Musical, The Wiz with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. SERPICO was one of the seminal 70’s films that changed the face of cinema forever, Lumet pulled a performance out Pacino rarely seen since and put a gritty true to life New York right on the screen. In DOG DAY AFTERNOON Pacino’s performance doesn’t have the same power, but Lumet’s brilliant deft skill followed by the brilliant NETWORK which broached many of the same topics from the other viewpoint, it his choices to bring these two particular tales to life on the big screen so close to each other in a the same time period. BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOUR DEAD, his final film could easily be considered the best of his career. Bringing to life an I believe Black Listed screenplay by an untested by successful playwright, Lumet brought everything he had learned over his vast career to this simple, but poignant film about crime, love, betrayal, lies, truth, morals and ultimately family.

Sid Melton (94- natural causes): Working since the 1940’s Melton had many roles in many features and TV, but is notable as Charley Parker from “Danny Thomas”, Friendly Freddy from “Gomer Pyle”, Alf Munroe from “Green Acres” and much later in life as Sophia’s husband Salvatore in “Golden Girls” flashbacks.

Cynthia Myers (61- undisclosed): Extremely sexy Playboy playmate.of 1968. Brunette. 39 D. All woman! She also appeared in Beyond The Valley of the Dolls.

Charles Napier (75- unspecified): A character actor starting in the late 60’s, Napier appeared in Russ Meyer films, followed by tons of TV shows and minor bits in films. Then he got the bad guy lead in Rambo and everything changed. While he never landed another ole just as big as Murdock, his voice led credence to one of the most under appreciated awesome cartoons ever in The Critic and his face and voice were an unmistakable presence in anything he appeared in. This 1985 article by Roger Ebert paints a great picture of Napier.

John Neville (88- complications of Alzheimer’s): One of the greatest British actors of stage in the 50’s, a time period I personally have read a lot up on and wish I had been alive to see. True international acclaim and noteworthiness did not come his way till being cast as the titular character in Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He would gain greater recognition as The Well Manicured Man in both the X-Files TV show and first X-Files film. A true actor’s actor, Neville was something to behold, which one care purely see in Munchausen. A pitch perfect performance he holds his own and overpowers such folks as Eric Idle and Robin Williams.

Patrice O’Neal (41- stroke): One of the funniest standups in recent years, I absolutely loved him on Shorties Watching Shorties. I loved his stand up too, and there’s one more hilarious factor of Patrice that most people don’t realize. For two years he was a member of WWE creative. I’m not sure what bits he came up with, but I bet if there was anything actually legitimately funny and not just distasteful and juvenile from 2000-2002 on RAW or Smackdown, Patrice was responsible for it.

Pete Postlethwaite (64- cancer): One of the finest character and stage actors England ever produced, America didn’t truly get to experience the excellence and awesomeness that was Pete Postlethwaite until Last of the Mohicans, followed by In The Name of the Father. He then wowed audience as one of the most important players in “The Usual Suspects” and since then has appeared in many films. In 2010 alone he had small, but very important roles in Clash of the Titans, Inception and The Town. His impact on film with his curiously interesting features, perfect timing as an actor and immense presence shall be surely missed.

Andy Rooney (92- surgery complications): The voice of some kind of reason for over sixty years going back to the days when he only wrote, but did not deliver his words, Rooney was more Christopher Hitchens and Bill Maher than they Hitchens and Maher combined. Andy Rooney was their love child despite he being the one who gave birth to them. Andy Rooney was allowed to speak his mind and it was a controversial, liberal, open minded, religion hating, republican despising, freedom of speech loving mind. It was only because he was left with a few minutes on 60 minutes to deliver his work instead of entire specials or an entire hour of moderated programming that his figure didn’t reach the fervor of these others. He was Andy Rooney to most, that cute old grumpy old man who spoke his mind at the end of sixty minutes. For conservatives I bet they just thought he was cute, but if the real world really paid attention, they’d of known Andy Rooney wasn’t cute… he was real.

Jane Russell (89- respiratory failure): Another beautiful of the silver screen in the 50’s, co starring alongside Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum at the height of her career. I do not believe I would’ve gotten along very well with Jane Russell though. She was a card carrying, god fearing, bible thumping, bigoted, conservative, narrowminded republican and all this by her own admittance. Also she loved to drink. Also by her own admittance. Gotta give it to her though, she was hot and she was a good actress.

Ken Russell (84- stroke): Truly a genius director, here was a man who was able to bring Pete Townsend Tommy to the big screen and present some of the weirdest, cult films of all time. While his career goes beyond these from 1971 till 1989 he directed, wrote and adapted some of the most insane stories one could find. Adapting and re-conceiving the works of men like John Whitting’s play based on Aldous Huxley’s work, turning the rock opera only staged previously as orchestral production into a full fledged film, and creating what is considered one of the great films in scifi psychotropic cinema in Paddy Chevaskey’s ALTERED STATES. Personally for me it his realization of Stephen Volk’s only successful screenplay GOTHIC, taking the two works of Byron and Shelley on that infamous night where Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was born and turning them into disturbing feast, but even more so the film of some of my childhood fantasies and nightmares his bringing to life of Bram Stoker’s LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM. This 1989 feature seemed to feel like Ken Russell’s coup de grâce. Throughout the 90’s and up till 2000 he would deliver very disappointing productions or even productions that were never released internationally and in most cases even theatrically. Lucky there’s that slew of disturbing flicks which started with THE DEVILS, continuing into LISTZOMANIA and even CRIMES OF PASSION to remember him by.

Bert Schneider (78- natural causes): Co-Founder of BBS Films. Creator of The Monkees and Producer of The Monkees’ Head, Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider, Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces starring Jack Nicolson, and Peter Bogdonavich’s The Last Picture Show. A true pop-culture legend and a man who actually helped change film, music and the world. The avenues he opened in developing The Monkees alone is a benchmark of what would become a constant existence in pop-culture. The created super group which would find a way to break out of the confines of their conception and become monumental successes despite their beginnings. Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, The Spice Girls, and so would never been ideas without The Monkees and therefore without Bert Schneider. The Monkee’s of course also would not have been successful without the immense talent of each member or the song writing talents of Neil Diamond and Andy Kim, among others, but all that still rests of Bert’s shoulders as a producer, making these original decisions and choices for the group including hiring Don Kirshner. Following that, it was his financial backing, spokesman-ship and support that allowed films like Easy Rider and Last Picture Show to be more than just haphazard concepts from talented, but unsteady writer/performers. The successes of those projects I’m sure inspired bigger studios to take chances they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Bubba Smith (66- heart disease): Obviously I don’t care about his obviously amazing sports career, as the only sports I care about are extreme, puglism, and martial arts, but as Moses Hightower in the “Police Academy” franchise he cemented himself in the echelon of great characters. He also got to perform in some super obscure, but cult fame shows like Blue Thunder.

Leonard Stone (87- cancer): Best known as the father of Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory, this prolific character actor played multiple roles in everything from “The Outer Limits” to “Perry Mason” to “Dragnet” to “Barney Miller”. He even had a recurring role as a judge on L.A. Law.

Elizabeth Taylor (79- congestive heart failure): What does one say about one of the most amazing and ravishing actresses of her time or possibly for centuries to come? Two Academy Awards, SAG Lifetime Achievement, Golden Globe Lifetime Achievement, AFI Lifetime Achievement, President’s Medal and on top of all that, she was also awarded Dame Commander. The love to two of entertainment’s greatest gifts Producer Michael Todd and actor Richard Burton. Activist, humanitarian and real person, ignore her scandals, her controversies, everything else… Liz Taylor was the real deal.

Yvette Vickers (73 or 74- mummified body found in 2010, heart failure): The other woman in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, she was also a Playboy playmate photographed in 1959 by Russ Meyer. The circumstances behind her death are as fascinating as her short time of fame.

John Wood (81- natural causes): British actor who had two very notable 80’s roles in War Games and Jumpin’ Jack Flash. To discuss either role would basically be considered spoilers. That is how tantamount he is to both films.

Actors like Stone, Postlewaithe, Melton, Lesser, Napier, Wood and Gough are the rock that holds films and television aloft, without them, the stars would never shine, all should take their hat off to these men and like Andrew Gold suggests “Thank them for being a friend”.

Posted in Tributes to the Fallen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 5

Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 4

I repeat the initial paragraph here so you do not have to reference it after three prior posts.  I’ve always felt it necessary to look back on what people who had an impact on my pop-culture history and in some cases my real life. In the past I’ve written these obits with the most marginal of information, but I’ve always broken it down by categories. Frequently there would be people I’ve missed people or even complete categories as my heart and soul weakens as I organize this work. This is the first time this type of writing is showing up on Pop-Culture Spectrum. It will appear in approximately five parts and then a final collection post of linking for those who don’t go backward in blog reading. In each category it is broken down alphabetically and the age of the person and their cause is in parentheses after. Each category will have its own specialties.  This time I shall have more than one category as their sections are not long enough for an entire post.  They will have links where available.

AUTHORS/PUBLISHING/BOOKS

Michael S. Hart (64- heart attack): The founder of Project Gutenberg and by extension the e-book, he can be both thanked and blamed for the kindle, the nook, iBooks, comixology and many more. Yet without him, public domain books in easily accessible digital formats, be they .doc, .txt, .pdf, or .epub would not exist so I am eternally thankful.

Christopher Hitchens (62- esophageal cancer): One of the greatest minds of our generation, he wrote what needed to be written and said what needed to be said. Christopher Hitchens chose to be a controversial, derisive figure among analysts, political experts and the such. He was the non comedian version of George Carlin, with more bite, more vitriol and definitely way more to the point. He called a spade a spade and then he beat the shit out of that spade and stuck it up your mom’s bum and called it an idiot for even believing in not believing. Of course he wasn’t a perfect thought maker, like anyone of his measure and opinions, he had to get something wrong one in awhile or “wrong” as the case may be. His words and bravery to spread those words will be truly missed, but luckily he was quite prolific and left behind an amazing legacy.

Brian Jacques (71- heart attack): My bookshelf proudly holds various Redwall books, including an early version of the comic adaptation. These fantasy tales of anthropomorphic mice and more are brilliant and of course had to be a major influence on Scott Petersen’s Mouse Guard. Yet, it is Jacques other series that truly took my fancy and placed him among one of my favorite writers ever. The book, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, was followed by two sequels which I have unfortunately only read one, but it and Angel’s Command are amazing works and cement Jacques.

Anne McCaffrey (85- stroke): The Dragonriders of Pern series was used very often to introduce children to adult science novels, when it was time for them to graduate. Not me in particular, I got started with Douglas Adams and Robert Heinlein between 10-13. Eventually I found my way to McCaffrey, devouring at a young age Dragonflight and such, but for whatever reason I didn’t stick with her completely. I found myself gravitated to Isaac Asmov, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelaney, etc. but I know how amazing the Pern books are and I absolutely adored the Dreamcast/PC game, despite the fact that it was heavily panned.

VIDEO GAMES

Bill Kunkel (61- heart attack): The Godfather of Video Game Journalism, he helped start the engine that has allowed Game Informer, Game Trailers.com, IGN, and even G4 to exist. While video games by their own existence became the phenomenon they did, Kunkel started the ball rolling that made them an excepted concept. So much so that you see video game reviews in GQ, Vanity Fair, Playboy and even The New York Times.

Takeshi Miyaji (45- unspecified): One the true pioneers of console gaming design. He worked on my favorite J-RPG of all time LUNAR as well as the GRANDIA series. While his work on LUNAR is not what turned the game into a forefrunt of love for me. That being the amazing animated sequences done for Silver Story Complete developed by Toshiyuki Kubooka and the amazing story written by Kei Shigema, but Takeshi was the spearhead behind making sure the original product existed and without him, Working Designs would never made the absolutely two thrilling North American Collector’s Editions which I am obscenely proud to own… including my Ghaleon punching doll.

Will Townsend (33- car accident): This young game producer helped on the DJ Hero project as well as other games at Activision.   Gamasutra’s tribute article is a  good read.

PERSONALITIES who don’t fit a single category

Edmund Snow Carpenter (88- natural causes): Visionary and anthropological genius, he opened the doors to the future of documentary work and historical analysis. Without him, visual anthropology and films which explored society through media would’ve never reached it’s pinnacle as both an accepted art form and as accepted academic research tool. He was an amazing writer and documentarian and you can get a feel for his work at this website if you aren’t familiar.

Steve Jobs (56- complications of pancreatic cancer): I was planning to keep this simple and state that I own an iPhone and I’m addicted to the thing, but Steve Jobs was so much more than this. When he left Apple and before he purchased Pixar he started a company which would go on to develop the software used by Apple for most of it’s current OS and digital products. It was his purchase of Pixar and helping steer the Disney deal in place that really cements his legend for me though. While he was only the business end there, it was his clear minded vision to see the future that allowed the future to exist and it is that vision that will continue to steer the future as it comes.

Jack Kevorkian (83 – thrombosis from cancer): If he wasn’t such an amazing presence on screen and speak such an important message which he was wrongly imprisoned for; and they didn’t make a compelling biofilm with Al Pacino (in one of those rare bothering to act roles) and John Goodman, I probably wouldn’t acknowledge his passing, but such as it is.

Jack LaLanne (96- pneumonia): The guru of fitness, the man also has some of the sickest feats of strength in history. Swimming shackled to Alkatraz Island at over 40? Doing it again at 60?  Then something similar including pulling boats at 70? The man was a beast. Not enough of us (myself included) listen to his words of advice. He was a wise man who lived a fulfilled crazy life with a TV show, fame, books, and living legend status. Us stubborn, weak willed individuals (myself included) should have listened to him more. It’s not too late though, not too late.

Don Lapre (47- apparent suicide from cut throat & blood loss) : Con Man and infomercial master! If you never saw this dude growing up or as a teen or who knows how old you are… whatever. This dude sold vitamins, tips on how to make money by BUYING ads in newspapers and even tried to sell his scam skills to help people create infomercials to sell scam products. Man had guts… but the coward couldn’t handle it when the feds decided to throw the book at him. Instead of taking it like a man, he killed himself. Still he didn’t rape anyone, he just robbed them blind. He did it really entertainingly though.

Zoogz Rift (58- health complications): A long time ago in what feels like another galaxy I was very good internet friends with Zoogz Rift. We would e-mail each other back and forth, sharing wrestling theories, musical concepts and artistic visions. I even wrote a comprehensive biography of Bob which sits somewhere in my files. Writer, painter, avante garde musician and professional wrestling manager and booker, Zoogz, was quite the interesting cat. A man with many awesome successes and equally failures, but somehow a man who always bounced back and found a platform and to display his energy and entertainment and who definitely made his mark along the way in many lives. I still treasure my School of the Criminally Insane T-shirt which I will proudly display in any punk rock music video I ever make or any professional wrestling appearance I ever get lucky enough to be involved in again, even one of my own making and money.

Posted in Tributes to the Fallen | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tribute to those fallen in 2011 Part 4