31 August 2010

Piranha 3D!

About a week ago I went and saw Piranha 3D. It was a very entertaining flick. As a kid I loved horror and sci-fi moves. Saturday afternoons and nights were filled with all sorts of great movies. Commander USA was my favorite hero in those days.

Earlier this year I made the mistake of seeing Clash of the Titans in 3D. Not only was the film mediocre but the 3D effects looked like an after thought. Piranha 3D was made for 3D and looked to be a great use of the technology.

As I said the Piranha 3D was very good, bordering on awesome. There are a few things I might have done a bit differently but it is just a creature feature I don't need Oscar winning acting and a preachy storyline. This film delivered. I'd give it an 8 or 9 out of ten.

Not everyone finds this movie appealing. The gore and sexual content is certainly not appealing to everyone, but that's why they make other movies. However there is one critic of the film that requires special mention; James Cameron.

Cameron worked briefly back in the day on Piranha 2: The Spawning. He got screwed over and I can agree with him that his name should not be on that film. Its just he seems to think he owns 3D now because of Avatar.

In an interview for Vanity Fair, or some magazine like that, he said of Piranha 3D he said: "...that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D."

Cheapens the medium? Reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films of the 70s & 80s? Sorry to break it to him but Avatar's lame storyline also cheapens the medium. A story about a white guy going native and being the only who can save some noble but primitive people... sorry Jimmy that story used to be told in the old days, but it is pretty dated and borderline racist.

3D is made for science fiction and horror and action movies no matter how good or bad their stories are. It boils down to special effects just like Avatar did. I'm pretty sure there will be no huge demand for a Steel Magnolias 3D or Driving Miss Daisy 3D, that's because 3D wouldn't add anything of value to those films.

Finally, 3D is still overrated. While it was interesting to see, I could easily do without 3D effects in film. I certainly would never buy one of those new 3D televisions that are being developed.

Anyway, if you like creature feature type horror films go see Piranha 3D, you might like it. If you don't it's not my fault.

30 August 2010

Kiva Update

About four months ago I wrote a post about the website Kiva. Kiva is a microfinance website. Members can donate money to lower income people across the world in amounts of $25.00 or more. It is an opportunity for people that normally might not be able to, to obtain loans for their businesses or personal expenses.

Since I've joined up I've made eight loans. A couple of my original ones have been fully paid back (allowing me to make additional loans) and one is currently delinquent in making his repayments.

It is a great learning experience. After reading through many profiles looking for the right loan to make you obtain an understanding of the the lives others in the world live. One potential lender I looked at was trying to raise money to rebuild his business after it was destroyed in political unrest.

I finally found a loan that met my current personal preferences; an individual (not a group), 12 month or shorter repayment plan, from most countries. Thus far I've given loans to people in Bolivia, Kenya, Ghana, Peru, Philippines, Ukraine, Tanzania, and Tajikistan.

So far it has been a very interesting experience. I still have to do some more independent research on microfinance, but it seems to be a great way to help. Loaning someone money and expecting it to be repaid helps to teach some responsibility where just giving money does not.

I'll be sure to give more update as things develop. Has anyone else used Kiva? If so do you have any interesting stories?

29 August 2010

D&D Game Today

Played in a D&D game today. It's a smallish group, three players and one DM, so the players are allowed two characters. For months I only had my Warlock, but I've recently added a half-ogre war hulk (from the Miniatures Handbook, a potentially abusive character class).

The game itself is a strange mix of third and fourth edition D&D. The players are all using 3.5 books but the DM is pulling out monsters and treasure from 4th edition sources. It's been bumpy at times, but the campaign has been working.

My half-ogre will become an unstoppable engine of destruction in about three more levels. My Warlock has steadily grown in power and has collected a wide assortment of magic items and scrolls. Even at 13th level I now have access to Shapeshift abilities. I spent a good portion of today as a 26 hit die gold dragon. That really helped to put a hurting on the army of giants attacking a settlement we vowed to defend.

Anyway, it has been an interesting game. I'll be sure to give some updates as things progress.

28 August 2010

Saberfrog Production Blog

A bit over two years ago I did a little work on a film called Saberfrog. It's less than a month until the official release of that film.

The writer/director of the film has created the Saberfrog Production Blog to chronicle his efforts in putting this whole project together.

It's an interesting read for those who participated in the process and for those who are interested in some of the behind the scenes of the making of a low-budget feature length film.

Give it a look.

27 August 2010

Gaming Withdrawal

For years I’ve had a Friday night table-top role-playing game to attend. For the last number of weeks I haven’t. I’m starting to suffer from withdrawal. The last five years of Friday gaming had been pretty cool.

For three of those years I ran a GURPS infinite worlds campaign. That has to be my favorite game to run since my Vampire: The Dark Ages campaign about a dozen years ago. After the GURPS game ran its course I ran Scion for nearly two years. Scion is a game where the players are the offspring of the deities of old in the modern world. The PCs just finished being demigods before becoming low-powered gods, however the game systems for the ultra-powered divine levels left much to be desired so we moved on from that.

We tried a few other games, the next most successful one our recent Marvel Superheroes campaign where I actually got to be a player. Despite my sucky power I managed to become possibly the most important character in the game.

Now I’m just taking some time off. Perhaps I’ll rebuild a group in the coming months. I’ve got a Tuesday game on a regular basis, but it has a short time slot and everyone has to work the next day so we never really bet to push it too much.

Tonight I’m just reading through some GURPS books as I watch some DVDs. I want to be ready for when Friday gaming starts back up for me.

Well, enough rambling about my problems. I’m just want to try to post to this blog everyday and tonight I’ve had old role-playing games on my mind. I now return you to your regularly scheduled internet browsing.

26 August 2010

From the What’s The World Coming To File

Judge Alan Kay has refused to dismiss parts of Craig Smallwood’s lawsuit against NCsoft. It seems that NCsoft’s game Lineage II is allegedly addictive. Smallwood played the game for over 20,000 hours from 2004 to 2009. Judge Kay should have dismissed the entire suit.

For whatever NCsoft may or may not have done, how was Smallwood making a living? Spending 9 hours a day for nearly six years playing a video game leaves little time for a job and earning money to pay the rent and utility bills. Were family members aiding him in his destructive behavior instead of helping him get his life on track? Does he live alone and on welfare? If that is the case the State of Hawaii is as much as fault for his ‘addiction’ as NCsoft would be since they enabled him to play.

Mr. Smallwood didn’t seem to realize he had an addiction until his account was closed on him. He seemed to believe that this was so that he could get hooked on another one of their games, but in their response to the suit NCsoft alleged that Craig was involved in real money transfers that were specifically forbidden in the User Agreement and Code of Conduct for the game. (page 7 of Defendant’s Answer)

If this case goes through and is successful what will we see next? Will there be a class-action lawsuit by the viewers of Lost who claim they became addicted to the show and spent hours every week watching the show and spending time on internet forums discussing it? Will the composers of annoying commercial jingles that get stuck in your head be brought before international war-crimes tribunals on charges of torture?

For a period of five years I’ve played City of Heroes off-and-on. While that game could be fun at times most of the time it could grow very boring as the missions and hunting became a grind and more like work than entertainment. When I finally reached 50th level with one of my characters I checked and discovered that I had spent a little over 250 hours playing that character. That was enough for me to help me stop playing. I can’t imagine playing any game for over 20,000 hours. There isn’t enough content in a typical game to keep me entertained for even 250 hours; how can someone become addicted to a stupid game?

Anyway, good luck to NCsoft on this one. And good luck to Craig, hopefully he can make some changes to improve his life; realizing you have an addiction is the first step to overcoming it. A change in personality and habits is required for that, not a big check.

10 August 2010

Back to Work on My 1st Novel

Thunder rumbled in the distance as rain pattered against my window. It had gotten dark since I first sat down in front of my computer to continue my work. The glow from the monitor was all that was giving illumination to the room.

Two years of work would be coming to an end in just a few short months. I sifted through piles of notes to find useful data to update my manuscript. I had received many helpful suggestions from the members of the Rochester Writers Association on parts of my novel. Now I was taking the best of those suggestions and integrating them into my story.

Over 40,000 words had been written in June 2008. I had fallen short of my goal for those thirty days but I knew that my story would be worth completing. Over the two years following that real life began to interfere; large projects at work, other writing, research for another blog.... weeks turned into months and my draft remained uncompleted.

But on that dark and stormy night not too long ago I gathered my notes, printouts, index cards, and source material to begin working to finish that first draft.

Will my draft be ready for publishing when it is completed by this fall? Certainly not! That's why it is called a first draft and not a completed manuscript.

No, instead the draft will be printed and given to a handful of trusted reviewers for further critique. Then comes the next round of updates and re-writes. Perhaps by May 2011, nearly three years from the first word being written, and over four years since research began, will I finally be ready to begin the quest to find an agent.

I would ask for luck, but hard work and stubbornness have usually served me better.
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