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Ramblings from the Marginalized » 2008 » March

March 2008

Movies March 28th, 2008 by HMTKSteve

Death at a Funeral

Once again one of those little red Netflix envelopes graced my mailbox this week. This one was one we ordered based off of a trailer we saw before another movie. I present to you my review of Death at a Funeral

The movie begins with a funeral. In fact, 90% of the activity in the movie takes place during the funeral. The patriarch of the family has died and the family is now gathering at the home of the deceased to pay their respects. You might not think there is a lot of comedy that can occur at a funeral without being morbid in nature but you would be wrong.

Daniel, the good son, and his wife Jane have been preparing to move out of his parents home and get their own flat in the city. The expense of the funeral has set him back a small bit and one thing he does not want to deal with is his wife's constant nagging about putting a deposit down on the flat. Daniel expects his novelist brother Robert to bear half the cost of the funeral thereby releasing his money to pay the deposit on the flat. Unfortunately when Robert arrives he informs Daniel that he has no cash at the moment and will not be able to pay his share of the expense for several months.

The thing to note here is that everyone looks up to Robert as a great success because A: he is a successful novelist and B: he lives in a penthouse in New York City. when the family members find out that Daniel is giving the eulogy they quietly lament how sad they are that Robert is not doing it. which in turn only inflames Daniel's jealousy of his brother.

While this is going on their cousin Martha is bring her fiance to the funeral to tell her dad they they are now engaged. Her fiance Simon is a very good man but her father can not stand him. To make matters worse when they go to pick up her brother Justin (who is training to be a pharmacist) Martha gives Simon a "Valium" from a bottle she finds in Justin's kitchen. If you can't guess, those are not Valium.

By the time they arrive at the funeral Simon is in suffering halucinations from the drug he took. This bottle of "Valium" plays a major role in the movie as it becomes lost and found again several times.

Peter and Daniel meet

While waiting for everyone to arrive Daniel is constantly being stared at by Peter. Not knowing why Peter is here (no one knows him) he is startled to find out that Peter was a friend of his father's. After a short meeting in his office he finds out that Peter was his father's gay lover and he wants some money or he goes public.

Know how the title says "Death" at a funeral? Well, I think you will know where the movie is going at this point.

My wife and I greatly enjoyed this movie. It had great acting and a very funny script. If you like dry comedy you will likely enjoy this film.

Internet March 24th, 2008 by Stephen

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --(Business Wire)-- Mar. 21, 2008 On March 20, 2008, Gibson Guitar Corp. filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Harmonix, MTV Networks (a division of Viacom) and Electronic Arts (EA Games) in the Federal District Court in Tennessee. This new lawsuit relates to the same U.S. Patent involved in the lawsuit filed by Gibson Guitar recently against various retailers in the same court. Gibson Guitar had made good faith efforts to enter into a patent license agreement with the defendants in this case. The defendants have not responded in a timely manner with an intent to enter into negotiations for a patent license agreement. Gibson Guitar had no alternative but to bring the suit, and it will continue to protect its intellectual property rights against any and all infringing persons.

Gibson is known worldwide for producing classic models in every major style of fretted instrument, including acoustic and electric guitars, mandolins, and banjos. Gibson's HD.6X-PRO Digital Guitar and the Gibson Robot Guitar represent the biggest advances in electric guitar design in over 70 years. Founded in 1894 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and headquartered in Nashville since 1984, Gibson Guitar Corp.'s family of brands now includes Epiphone, Dobro, Maestro, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Echoplex, Electar, Flatiron, Gibson Baldwin Music Education, Slingerland, Valley Arts, Maestro, Oberheim, Sunshine Piano, Take Anywhere Technology, Baldwin, J&C Fischer, Chickering, Hamilton, and Wurlitzer. Visit Gibson's website at http://www.gibson.com.

Steve's Notes

Perhaps I might be missing something very obvious here but the guitars used in Guitar Hero are not real guitars. They are just a video game controller made to look like a guitar. Playing guitar Hero will in no way help you learn how to play a real guitar.

Since when does a couple of colored buttons and a strum area a guitar make? Is Gibson trying to say that the thousand dollar guitars they make are somehow in danger because a plastic video game controller was made to look like them for use in a game where players do nothing more than play an over-glamorized version of air guitar to impress their friends?

Give me a break Gibson. I know you have some patents on guitars but the only Guitar in Guitar Hero is in the name. The controller is not even a close facsimile of how a guitar works.

Movies March 22nd, 2008 by HMTKSteve
Dan in Real Life

Once again one of those little red Netflix envelopes graced my mailbox this week. This time it was a movie both my wife and I wanted to see.

It took a while before the acting style of Steve Carell caught on with me. I'd seen The Office a time or two but it wasn't until the show was in its second year that I started watching it. Since that time I have seen a few of the movies he has starred in and I have to say that this is the best.

Steve Carell plays the part of Dan Burns, the widowed father of three girls. One of his daughters is about to graduate high school, another is just beginning high school and the third is only in the fourth grade.

The movie begins as most of these types of movie begins; Dad is over-protective of his three girls and doesn't exactly listen to them or understand their problems. It's time for the yearly family reunion in a log cabin on the coast of Rhode Island but at least one of the girls does not want to go.

Dan in Real life

The day after arriving Dan heads into town alone, at the insistence of his mother. While in town Dan meets an amazing woman who he falls for instantly. Both of them hit it off but she has to meet her new boyfriend so she gives him her phone number and tells him to call so they can finish their talk.

Dan heads back to the family cabin in the best mood ever. He tells his brothers that he met a wonderful woman and everyone is excited. See, Dan has not been with a woman since his wife died several years ago and the family wants him to move on with his life.

Everything is great until his brother Mitch introduces his new girlfriend... Yeah, it's her.

The rest of the movie consists of them growing closer while trying to hide it from the rest of the family. Does Dan steal the girl from his brother? You will have to see the movie to find out.

One thing that really got me with this film is the soundtrack. The producers found a guy from Norway to write all of the music and perform it in an acoustical format that really works for the film. It's nice to watch a movie where the music supports the film rather than makes up for bad writing. what I mean by that is that in this film music does not set the mood, the music follows the mood.

Don't take my word for it, watch it yourself!

Internet March 19th, 2008 by Stephen

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced the completion of its acquisition of Audible, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBL).

Audible is the leading provider of spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. Through its websites in the US and UK and alliances in Germany and France, Audible offers over 80,000 programs, including audiobooks and other spoken word content from more than 520 content partners that include leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers. Content from Audible is downloaded and played back on personal computers, CDs, or AudibleReady computer-based and wireless mobile devices.

Upon the closing of the acquisition, all remaining outstanding Audible shares, other than those held by stockholders who properly perfect appraisal rights under Delaware law, were converted into the right to receive $11.50 per share in cash. As a result of the transaction, Audible has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon.com.

Games March 14th, 2008 by Stephen

The latest video game industry sales figures reported by the independent NPD Group show that Nintendo DSâ„¢ and Wiiâ„¢ topped the U.S. charts for February. Nintendo DS sold nearly 587,600 units and Wii sold nearly 432,000.

"Our momentum has not let up since the holidays and we expect it to continue throughout the year," said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. "We have the industry's strongest lineup of games for everyone from core to casual gamers."

    February sales, according to NPD, in the United States:

  • Nintendo sold more than 1 million hardware units combined, accounting for nearly half (47.6 percent) of all hardware sold.
  • Nintendo DS games topped all software sales, with more than 3.6 million units sold. Consumers purchased nearly 2.9 million software units for Wii. Four of every 10 games sold were for Nintendo systems.
  • Three games in the top five sellers for February play on Nintendo systems, including two from third-party publishers.
  • Nearly 1.7 million accessories were purchased for Wii, more than for any other system. More than 1.2 million accessories were sold for Nintendo DS as well.

Everyone reading this needs to keep in mind that NPD does not track world wide sales data. This information is mainly concerning the American market.

What I find most encouraging is the third bullet point where we find that two of the three Wii games that appear in the top five sellers list were not made by Nintendo. As great as Nintendo is it also has a reputation among third-party developers that only Nintendo owned titles ever do well on their systems.

video games and Wii March 10th, 2008 by HMTKSteve
Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Sunday morning my daughter and I waited in line in front of our local GameStop store to pickup our reserved copy of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. There were a few high school kids in the line but the line was not very long. In fact there were only about 10 kids when we got there half an hour before opening time. By the time the store opened 20 people were waiting in line. A few kids were saying they had not pre-ordered the game but still expected to buy a copy.

While inside the store, waiting to make our purchase, my daughter asked me to buy the guide book for it. I told her I would get her a wireless GameCube controller instead but, after seeing they only had the cheap Gamestop controllers I relented and got her the book. It counts as reading, right? This was also about the time some of those kids found out that "no pre-order" also meant "no sale". That's right, if you did not pre-order the game you were not going to get one on release day.

In the car ride home my daughter was pouring over the guide book, telling me all sorts of things I did not want to hear.

I have to tell you that I have not been following much of the press about this game. I knew it had been pushed back multiple times but that was about it. What surprised me (nicely) is the inclusion of the extended single player mode. We logged in over four hours in the adventure mode and have only completed 25% of it!

As in previous games there is a ton of unlockable content. Not just characters but trophies, stages, challenge levels, etc... So far we have unlocked three bonus characters (Ganondorf, Luigi and Marth). I don't remember how we unlocked all three but Ganondorf was unlocked by playing through Classic Mode with Link on Hard level.

The previous Smash Bros. game for the Game Cube was very good but this one takes it up a few notches. The extended single player mode is one thing but the online brawling is something else! You can even bet your coins on the result of matches you watch.

We have played a few games on Nintendo WFC and have experienced no problems.

As for controls, my daughter prefers to use the Game Cube controller while I like to use the Classic controller attached to my Wii-mote.

Yeah, this game was worth the wait and will likely become The game on the Wii for the next few months Mario Kart Wii may knock it down. I'm brawling, are you?

Games March 4th, 2008 by HMTKSteve
Gary Gygax

It is with heavy heart that I report the passing of gaming legend Gary Gygax. The father of the modern RPG industry died today at the age of 69 at his Lake Geneva home.

Gary will be missed by all in the RPG world. Without the creation of Dungeons and Dragons and the formation of TSR my childhood would have been very different.

My skin would have been less pale. My math skills not so finely honed. My ability to get a date would not have been so badly hampered...

I spent a large portion of my youth living in the world created by Gary Gygax. I have many fond memories of those Saturday nights. So what if the jocks and pretty boys were out chasing girls, I was in my friend's basement chasing orcs and slaying dragons until the sun arose and burned our light sensitive eyes.

After all those years of gaming I still turned out fine. I never went "over the deep end" and let in game events affect my life. Nor did I know any unhinged people who let the game rule their lives as the media constantly depicted in the 1980's.

Mr. Gygax, I will leave an empty chair for you when my gaming group next meets.

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