Saturday, June 15, 2013

Where do you draw the line

between taking care of yourself when you're exhausted and simply procrastinating? 

I've been pondering that question for much of today.

Currently, I'm doing a great job procrastinating taking care of myself, but with a bit of willpower--and perhaps some luck--I'll change that soon. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

A great idea for a video game feature: Personalize your zombies

Many of us enjoy first-person-shooter games in which you roam some setting and kill wave upon wave of zombies.  Yeah, the zombies eventually win--they are, after all, zombies--but along the way you have great fun slaying them by the dozens.  Though I quite like such games, I have to admit that they are not to everyone's taste.

Today, I realized that there is a way to make almost everyone want to play one of these:  create a game that lets you personalize your zombies.

Imagine it.  All you need is a picture of the face of that co-worker you can't stand, or the irrational boss, or the woman or man who dumped you, the kid who's bullying you--anyone who's pissing you off right now.  Let's be completely honest:  those you care about most are frequently the ones who piss you off the most, so include pictures of their faces, too.  Friends, families, lovers, co-workers, you name it--anyone close to you is a candidate.

Once you have the face shots, you pair them with a set of the usual built-in avatar bodies, customize as you see fit and the software allows, and then you have your potential cast of zombies.

At the start of each game, you can choose the built-in zombies, any casts you've saved, or any new casts.  To create a new cast, you pick any of your uploaded zombie buddies, assign a percentage of the zombies to look like them, a percentage for the game to pick, and start the game.

Bam!  Really pissed at the boss?  Shoot a few thousand of him, and you might feel better.  Just got dumped?  Take him/her out for a few hours, and you'll feel better.

Just mad at everyone?  Throw them all in the mix, and go to town.

Now, let's get to what the critics will say.

That's sick.  Maybe, but it's also fun, and I bet it will sell like crazy.

You're encouraging real-world violence (or the specific subset) You're encouraging violence against (women OR men OR children OR co-workers OR whatever).  No, I'm not.  I'm saying it could be therapeutic fun to shoot zombies with their faces.  Be honest:  How many of us have gotten mad enough to want to punch or kick someone?  Almost everyone.  (Dalai Lama, maybe you haven't; sorry, dude.)  I've never bought the notion, by the way, that video-game violence leads to real-world violence in any general sense.  Do I believe that some folks are sufficiently off-kilter that the wrong thing can throw them into a bad place?  Yes, but video games aren't alone in being able to be that wrong thing.

No one would really enjoy doing this, so it won't sell.  There we must disagree.  What I will concede is that few folks would want to admit they enjoy it, so most people will buy it for the general zombie shooting--and then secretly personalize their zombies.  It will be key to sales, by the way, to have a secret "room" (storage area) in which to store your personalized zombies. 

You're invading the privacy of others by putting their faces online.  Nope.  These rooms full of zombies would be on local storage. 

What happens when you're shooting zombies who look like people you live with and those people walk in the room and discover you doing it?  You'll be in trouble then.  Not at all.  Either they'll confront you, in which case you'll finally have that talk you've been needing to have, or they'll walk away, in which case you'll go back to killing zombies until you feel better. 

You do realize that you will be a zombie for a lot of people at your company--and in your life.  Of course!  I hope they use a particularly bad picture of me.

People are better than that.  If they try this game, they will realize they are hurting real people, people they love, people with families, and they will stop in revulsion and never do it again.  I disagree; I think people will enjoy it.  The good news, though, is that by design I win either way on this one.  If this criticism proves true, I will have created a game that helps people appreciate more the others in their lives.  If this criticism is wrong, I will have created a fun game and a stress reliever.  Either way, I win.

So, what video game publisher wants to hook up with me to make this happen?

Oh, before you ask:  Yeah, it's been that kind of day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Reaction to a storm

Around 5:30 p.m. today, I was sitting in the big open meeting space at PT, brainstorming video concepts with some folks on our studio team, when a storm swept over the area.  The sky darkened as thick, almost black clouds filled the heavens.  Gusts of wind beat tree branches against the windows.  Rain fell, first gently and then in huge floods.  Winds blew the water in sheets across the parking lot.  The weather show was impossible to ignore.

After we finished, I stood and watched the storm for a while longer.  An urge seized me:  I wanted to run out into the farthest, emptiest parking lot, stand in the rain amidst the strong winds, and scream.  I wasn't angry or sad or feeling anything in particular; I just wanted to scream in a storm that would carry away the sounds before anyone could hear them. 

I let the moment pass and went back to work, as I was supposed to.

A big part of me, though, still wishes I'd gotten soaked and screamed in the storm.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What do

a beef stick, a pewter marrow spoon, over two dozen Retro 51 pens, an insanely sharp custom-made knife, two different types of black sea salt, and a small tin of bacon toothpicks have in common?

All are within easy reach from the chair in which I'm sitting and writing in The U of Power.

It occurs to me that some folks might find this a bit odd.

To say nothing of the notebooks, of course.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Finally, a new Richard Curtis movie

Long-time readers may well recall that I am a stone Richard Curtis fan.  The two movies he's previously directed, Love Actually and The Boat That Rocked, are among my all-time favorites, films I watch at least once a year.  He's written so many wonderful screenplays that I couldn't reasonably list them all, but by way of example I'll point you to Notting Hill and the "Vincent and the Doctor" episode of Doctor Who.  Curtis wears his heart marvelously on his sleeve, and I adore his work.

On November 1 in the U.S., his latest film, and the third he's directed, will open.  Check it out.

I am unreasonably excited about seeing this movie.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Now You See Me

I disagree with the majority of the critics on this movie.  Over at RottenTomatoes, it's scored a sad 46% critical rating.  The audience rating is a far kinder 75%.  I rate it higher than either group.

I went to see it because I'm a sucker for movies and novels with elaborate cons (ref. my own Slanted Jack.)  Having seen some of the reviews, I was prepared to be disappointed.  Instead, I was delighted.  I was never bored and had a good time throughout the film.  (Most of our group agreed with me, though one person lost interest partway through and was generally bored.) 

If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you, so I'm not going to delve into the plot.  I will say that all the cast members delivered at least decent, and usually better, performances.  (I probably would have gone just to see Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman play off one another for the few scenes they had together.)  The plot, though very much a convoluted long con, gave enough hints that you could figure out the basics early but still enjoy yourself and find some surprises later. 

I have to go against the crowd on this one and recommend it to you.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Foodie fun

This afternoon, a group of us drove to a small, rural, North Carolina town, Hurdle Mills, for a picnic in a big field.  This was, however, no ordinary picnic.  It was this year's installment of the Farm to Fork picnic, an event I missed last year and was looking forward to attending this year.  It was a foodie paradise, with 34 restaurant/farm pairings offering at least one dish apiece to all the attendees.  You wander the tents, check out the food, and eat small portions--usually a few bites--of whatever you want, however much you want.  The restaurant list was a who's-who of the Triangle's locally sourced culinary scene.  Every single dish I sampled was at least tasty, and quite a few were top-drawer.

The day was hot and muggy but not unbearably so.  The setting was lovely.

Click on any image to see a larger one.

Picking favorites from such a great set of dishes is tough, but I'd probably give the nod to the goat sliders with chevre from Mandolin and the corn dogs with aioli from perennial favorite Panciuto.  Here's chef Aaron Vandemark of Panciuto bending over the little grill on which he was making the corn dogs.

Though the event is pricey, I recommend it wholeheartedly.  I certainly hope to attend next  year.


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