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Archive for April, 2009

Review #272

Friday, April 24th, 2009

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Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Genre: Exercise
Release Date: 03/31/2009

A year ago, Nintendo released a game called Wii Fit. At the time lazy people rejoiced. Now they good play video games and lose weight all at the same time. Of course, by now everyone but the deluded and ignorant know that Wii Fit is the 21st century equivalent of snake oil. It’s a horrible workout program that can actually injure more than it helps you. Without someone to watch you do those yoga positions the first time, you can strain or tear something if you are repeatedly doing them wrong. As the balance board only goes by pressure rather than form, a gamer can develop horrible habits that can lead to physical ailments and arthritis down the road. When Wii Fit came out, would-be gaming journalists who have had little to no exercise slobbered over the thing because they wanted to share in the delusion that it actually worked, making millions of gullible lazy sheep looking for a quick fix to their weight issues hand over dump trucks full of cash to the Big N.

Of course, I reviewed the game with the helper of a professional yoga instructor, a long distance runner, and an aerobics teacher. Together the four of us were shocked by how bad the game was for you and how stupidly people were praising this waste of money and space. Alas as the lone voice of reason and experience in a field of journalism populated by the ignorant but loud and the opinionated without research and fact-checking, my comments were lost in a cacophony of stupidity. Thankfully as the weeks and months passed, people started to realize that none of the game’s claims held true and those chubby oompa loompas looking for the next quick fix(How’d Atkins work out for you?) quickly dropped their Wii Fit after they realized they’d have to spend a good chunk of their free time playing this game with some sort of regular routine (in addition to changing eating habits and probably dropping a vice or two). Too bad the damage was done and we were beset with a flurry of horrible games that had jumped on the exercise bandwagon.

I’ve played every exercise game on the market, and in all my years of gaming and maintaining a fitness routine that is the exact opposite of what one thinks of in regards to a professional in the gaming industry, there has been only one game that is actually helpful at what it claims to do: My Fitness Coach, although I played it under its original release name of Yourself!Fitness for the Microsoft Xbox. That thing was amazing and the port is just as good.

Now yet another exercise game is on the market. To make matters worse, it’s a licensed game using the Gold’s Gym logo and trademarks. Although skeptical about the quality, I still wanted to give the game a try because I would love an exercise game for a current system to live up to its promise. After a few days of doing 3,000 punches, my arms, back and abs are sore and burning. Now, is it from a well done exercise routine that promotes good habits and actually fitness, or is it from doing things that hurt rather than help?

868 dollars later…

Friday, April 24th, 2009

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my car is fine. I had to bring it in twice today though.

When I first brought it in, they couldn’t get the brake warning light to come on and they said I still hjave 20% of my brakes left, so we skipped that and went with the 65K tune up, power steering flush, new windshield wipers and called it a day at 314 dollars.

I drove for about two blocks when the warning came out and then turned right around back to the dealer. It turned out that there is a little bit of rust from the rotors that is occasionally brushing the sensor alert, causing it to go on and off. The only way to stop it…replace the brakes like I originally intented. Wah wah.

544 more dollars later and the car is in perfect condition. Still I thought the whole ordeal would be about a grand or $1500, and I finished my Gold’s Gym review while waiting for the repairs, so everything worked out. Look for that in a few minutes.

DVD of the Day #114 - From Within

Friday, April 24th, 2009

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From Within offers an interesting concept and one of the best end credit sequences I’ve ever seen, but it’s horribly acted and so cheesy, it is hard to take seriously. A pity. With a better writer, cast and editing team, this could have been an actual theatrical release.

The plot of the movie is pretty simple. Grovetown is a crazy evangelical uber Christian town where everything is filled with Jesus-ocity. In fact, they had a witch burning a few weeks ago, albeit it on the down-lo. Well, even though they killed the witch, it appears her power still lingers. A rash of suicides is gripping the town in the form of each person seeing an eeeeevil version of themselves that torments them until they take their own life. The main character Lindsay, who actually bears a resemblance to Lindsay Lohan, is torn between the bad boy with a heart of gold son of the witch and her boyfriend who is a crazy religious nut and son of the town evangelical preacher who wants to burn evildoers left and right.

Of course it turns out that yes indeed, the town is cursed by the power of black magic, and that Lindsay and a few friends have to try and stop it.

So there are evil christians, evil black magic and one confused teenager in the middle. Guess who wins?

Again, it’s not a bad movie, but the Christians are portrayed as so crazy that they make the racists from Mississippi Burning look sane and rational. Oy. This makes it a bit hard to take seriously and the wooden acting doesn’t help either. It does have Adam Goldberg is it, which was a surprise, but he’s a B-level actor in a C-level movie.

It’s worth watching for the hits of quality and the ending, but not much else.

Is It Worth Keeping? No, but it is worth watching.
Rating: 5/10

Car Repairs

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

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Car goes in tomorrow for a new headlight, brakes and the 65,000 mile tune up. That’s going to be a boring day as I work for the car dealer instead of home. I guess I’ll bring the PSP along for the duration.

Still, it’s funny that today, one of the rare days I drive today (and then only for errands) is the day both the headlight died and the “break pads are worn” light came on instead of when I drove to work and back every day.

(Retro) Review #271

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

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Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm
Publisher: Crave
Developer: Treyarch
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 02/28/2000

Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm is an action RPG made by Treyarch, who is better known for their trilogy of Spider-Man games. You know, the one where you die if you touch the ground? That was one of them. They also made Call of Duty 2 and 3. Long before those days, Treyarch made this little game that people either seemed to love or loathe. As one of my stipulations for the 30 Days of Dreamcast feature was to look at lesser known titles, both good and bad, I decided to pick this up and see which side of the fence I would be on. Hey, why not; it’s new to me!

Was Draconus worthy of my time, or was this another Silver experience?

DVD of the Day #113 - The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

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Bear with me kids - for the next eight days we are looking at all eight films from the “After Dark Horrorfest III. Now the first year had some fun films. I think Is till own half of them, (Unrest, Wicked Little Things, Reincarnation and Gravedancers). The second year was awful and I own two of them (Mulberry Street and Unearthered) simply because they were entertaining, but by no means good. I’ll probably get rid of those eventually. This year, like every year, I purchase them all and watch them one by one. A little disclaimer though - this year, I’m not keeping ANY of them. That’s a bad sign.

So let’s start with The Butterfly Effect 3. Now I have not seen either for the first two Butterfly Effect movies and nor do I want to. Ahston Kutcher is an instant pass for me. As such, I have no idea how this connects to the other films, or if it even does. It does seem to be a stand alone film.

TBE3 is about a private dick named Sam who can travel through time with the help of a bathtub full of ice. No really. Instead of screwing around with time like the protagonists in the previous movie(s), Sam simply watches and then uses his knowledge to solve crimes and apprehend criminals. This is a neat twist of the time travel film and it actually gets neater.

It’s turns out that the crux of why Sam became a detective, a man who killed his high school sweetheart, is actually innocent. Sam is hired to prove his innocent before he is put to death in a week. Of course he goes back in time and ends up screwing up the time space continuum by trying to save his galpal and instead ends up getting her AND HER SISTER killed. Whoops.

Now Sam is obsessed with finding out who the killer is, but each time he goes back, someone else has died. Somehow he has created a serial killer, but who could it be, and how can they be one step ahead of someone who travels through time?

TBE3 is actually a pretty good murder mystery. It’s not a horror film and it’s far less a science-fiction film than it is a twist on the old “Whodunit?” film. It was decently acted and it was somewhat original. In fact, the only reason it’s not worth keeping is that it’s simply a one-shot film. Once you know the ending, it’s just not worth ever seeing again. I have to admit it’s a nice (and logical) twist.

Sadly, it’s all downhill from here with the other films.

Is It Worth Keeping? No, but it was worth watching.
Rating: 6/10

DVD of the Day #112 - Dinosaur Hunters

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

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Here we are: the last of The Nature Collection. Dinosaur Hunters is not real about dinosaurs as a whole but the discovery of the Oviraptors and the evolution of what we know about the breed of dinosaurs once native to Mongolia.

Oviraptor means “Egg seizer” as the very first Oviraptor fossil was found only a few from another dinosaur’s nest and the eggs it contained. This documentary follows several scientists and their discovery that Ovirapators were not actually hunting other eggs, but guarding their own. Oviraptors also greatly resembled birds and this species was also one of the definitive links show the evolution from reptiles into birds. Kind of like Pokemon but not as cute or quick.

I felt the name of this documentary was misleading and that the (now outdated) CGI dinosaurs were super hokey. As this was only focusing on a single species of dinosaur, I wish the title would have reflected this. I went in assuming it would be a brief overview of dinosaurs. I’m glad I was wrong though. I’d rather learn a lot about a specific thing that trivia about a bunch of little things.

The film was a bit dry and out of the six documentaries in The Nature Collection this is easily the weakest. I really enjoyed the footage of Mongolia and learning about the Oviraptor, but the narration was plodding and it was hard to keep me interesting in this one. Part of it was the pacing and the other part was the outdated special effects. it is surprising how much CGI has improved in a decade or so.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes.
Rating: 5.5/10

Review #270

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

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Magic Ball: Wicked Witches
Publisher: Creat Studio
Developer: Tik Games
Genre: Puzzle
Release Date: 4/16/2009

Almost three months to the day after the original release of Magic Ball, we’ve got our first bit of downloadable content. Wicked Witches adds another 24 levels to Magic Ball, which is essentially 50% more content for an additional $2.99. That’s a pretty good deal on paper. As I enjoyed the original game, I decided to invest in the DLC. How does it hold up?

DVD of the Day #111 - Tigers of the Snow

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

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Are you guys getting sick of National Geographic documentaries yet? Well don’t worry. This is the second to last from The Nature Collection and this is the first real animal special since Supercroc.

Tigers of the Snow is an hour long film on the largest cats in the world - The Siberian Tiger. There are two sets of tigers here. The first are wild Siberian Tigers and the others are a pair of tigers kept in captivity and their attempts to breed them in a free range environment. The latter is successful, although like most mother tigers in captivity, she doesn’t nurse or groom her babies and one dies from the neglect. The other has to be kept from the mother who feels jealousy towards and wants to attack it. Too bad - it’s so cute and playful and loves the humans who feed it.

The actual tracking and tagging of wild tigers is an interesting bit. One time a tiger is hit with a dart with fart too much tranq and they have to resucitate it. That was weird and creepy. Another time, they hit a tiger with not enough and so it gets up right before they can tag it whoops.

Like the rest of the documentaries in the collection, this is a well written, narrated and and entertaining special. There are a ton of bonus features, all about the Siberian Tiger and i can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with these majestic creatures at first sight. Tigers of the Snow may be nine years old, but it’s a timeless piece on a creature of greed and selfishness is slowly driving to extinction.

Is It Worth Keeping? Yes
Rating: 8/10

Another Week Begins

Monday, April 20th, 2009

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Man did Friday suck. We had a four hour meeting in MD Monday morning. Silver Spring is a bit of a dump too. Why is Maryland so dumpy? The worst part is that the shelter reeked of cigarettes and thus nicotine. This of course meant every muscle in my body seized up after prolonged exposure and instant nicotine migrane about 1pm. HOWEVER, as the weather here iN DC has been insane, going from 70 to 30 to 70 all within 24 hours, I also had a SINUS Migrane due to the barometrtic pressure changes.

Both migranes hit me in different areas. Migrane is generally lumbar and in my forehead. The Sinus is in my eyes nose and neck. To have both, for the first time ever, at once was a horrible pain at the level I have never felt before, and I’ve performed foot surgery on myself without Anesthesia. It was so bad my brain literally stopped working. I couldn’t think, talk and movement was based solely on instinct. I ended up spending from 4pm to 9am the next morning in bed where the slightest sound would cause me to drive heave. At one point I either experienced slight bleeding in my abdomen or my stomach. I had heaved everything in me, then bile, and then finally just flecks of blood. I was actually pretty worried at that point, but I also couldn’t walk or even lift my head at the worst part, so I just laid in bed hoping to eventually pass out from the pain, which I did.


Saturday was better. I got in THREE runs to make up for several days of no exercise due to spine and head shit. I also finished my review of the god awful Ceville and got a lot of stuff done I had planned to do on Friday.

Sunday I played the DLC content for Magic Ball which is pretty fucking terrible. Collision detection issues, wonky physics, and a ball that would go straight through my paddle. i’ll end up doing a mini review of this, but fuck if 2009 isn’t the worst year for gaming that I can remember. And yes, I do mean EVER.

As Heather requested I post this…


Current is doing a five course and two sake meal for $45 bucks. Go Tastings Journal!
I definitely want to do this. I think I’d go with the mixed greens, edamame, Sushi, not sure on the main dish, and then Yokan.

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