Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Great Homebrew Experiment : Part 2

So today has been one week since “The great beer-brewing experiment”.

The instructions said that the beer should be left in the fermenter for at least a week. I’m planning on leaving it for two as apparently you can leave it in there for up to three weeks and longer fermenting “improves the color and clarity” of the beer.

However, it also said that it can be tasted at one week. The instructions said it would taste ‘yeasty, but ok’.

What can I say, I couldn’t resist.

So, following the instructions, I poured myself a very small amount in the bottom of the glass. The instructions warned me that it would be ‘clearer’ at this point, but still not what anyone would consider ‘clear’. Basically, it’s cloudy until it’s bottled and the secondary fermentation takes place.

This was a bit of an understatement. It looked like dirty pond water.

So, bracing myself and expecting the worst, I took a sip…

…and that shit was delicious!

I mean, normally, homebrew (unless you’ve had lots of experience) doesn’t taste all that great. In fact, most homebrews I’ve tried tasted like freshly boiled ass…but in all honesty, it was amazing.

The only thing I could think was “Hell, and it gets better tasting than this?” Bear in mind, that what I was tasting was room-temperature, flat beer…but I could honestly throw the keg in the fridge for a couple hours and drink it quite easily.

All that’s left to do is the ‘secondary fermentation’ in the bottles (you add sugar and seal it in the bottle so the yeast can carbonate it)…and it’s done.

Honestly, I’m amazed…I was hoping I’d have something that was at least ‘drinkable’, and as long as I don’t mess up and not sterilize the bottles properly, this should be a masterpiece.

…and considering that refills for the kit cost less than 15 bucks to make 2 gallons…I don’t think this will be my last homebrew experiment.

I’m thinking of making a summer lager next time and adding a bit of lime to the recipe. Sounds good, no?

A Heartwarming Christmas Story

I read the following story, and just had to repeat it here.

Apparently a father wanted to buy his teenage son “Guitar Hero 3” for the Nintendo Wii for Christmas. After driving hundreds of miles and visiting more stores than he could count, the father finally managed to score a copy. (If anyone out there in blogland has tried to get hold of a copy of GH3 for the Wii, you’ll know just how big a feat this is).

Unfortunately for the son, a few weeks before Christmas, his dad caught him smoking pot.

The Father said that while he has no real ‘problem’ with the ole wacky tobbacy, his son was working on getting an athletic scholarship and had sworn to his father that he wouldn’t drink, smoke or do anything else that would harm his health. Apparently his son had made a ‘solemn promise’

Well apparently this father took this promise a lot more seriously than his son did. With his son so easily breaking his word, the father thought long and hard about whether his son really deserved this hard-won Christmas present that he went to so much trouble to buy.

In a case of extreme awesomeness, the Father did something most parents wouldn’t think of. He put the copy of GH3 up on eBay, and showed the listing to his son.

Just to add yet another layer of awesomeness, the auction for Guitar Hero 3 (currently retailing at $90 for the game and controller) sold for the outrageous sum of $9100.01.

I believe this story has two morals:

1) Don’t make a deep, meaningful promise to your parents and then break it, otherwise they’ll sell cool shit that could have been yours on eBay.

2) Some people really need to learn a bit of patience. Nine grand for a frigging game that you’re gonna be bored off within weeks? Is getting it on Christmas morning really that big a deal?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa? Well, he's a bity of a bastard.

As it’s close to Christmas ‘Rudolph’ is being show on TV at least 17 times a day…It’s the law.

So I found myself watching it today and…

Have you ever noticed what an absolutely awful story that is? I mean, people are constantly up in arms about sex and violence on TV, but what I said is ban Rudolph!

Think about what you’d say if you had to describe that story to someone:

“Rudolph is born with a bit of a deformity (a red, shiny nose) and his parents are so ashamed of him that they force him to cover it up and keep it a secret. Later on, everyone sees his deformity at the reindeer games, and everyone, including Santa, laughs, makes fun of him and refuses to let him join in the reindeer games or allow him to associate with them in any way. Apparently a slight physical difference is enough to make him a total outcast.

Hey! You look different! That makes you totally worthless, Fuck off, Rudolph!

Finally, a situation arises where Santa realizes he can exploit Rudolph’s deformity to save his own ass. So only when Rudolph has an exploitable quality do they even acknowledge his existence. No one apologises or admits that having a red nose isn’t a particularly bad thing... It’s more a case of ‘Hey! Freak! Now that we need you, we’re best buddies, right? You’ll help us out, won’t ya? Forget all that freak-talk, we just need your nose to guide the sleigh…Congrats, you’ve been promoted from outcast to exploitable commodity!”

Personally, if I was Rudolph, I’d have told Santa to fuck right off when he asked me to guide his sleigh, and pointed out that while I have a shiny red nose…he’s a fat bastard ZZ-Top lookalike.

Hmm, discriminating against someone because of the color of a particular body part? Santa and his reindeer…original racists!

Don’t even get me started on the poor elf who wants to be a dentist…

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,

Had a very shiny nose,

And if you ever saw it,

You would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer,

Used to laugh and call him names,

They wouldn’t let poor Rudolph,

Join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve,

Santa came to say,

Rudolph with your nose so bright,

Won’t you guide my sleigh tonight.

Then all the reindeer loved him

As they shouted out with glee,

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

You’ll go down in History!

See? Even the reindeer are shallow sycophants.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stoopid People.

Totally random, but this memory popped into my head out of nowhere, so I thought I'd share.

I used to work as a bartender.

One day a group of smacktards walk into the bar and ask me for a 'Turbo Shandy'. Now, a 'shandy' is just half beer, half lemonade in a glass. I have no idea what the hell a 'turbo' shandy is, and tell them so.

I get a superior smirk back, along with multiple exclamations of disbelief that I don't know what a 'turbo shandy' is. Bear in mind, at this point I'd been bartending for about three years. Finally, they decide to let me in on the secret. A 'Turbo Shandy' is half beer, half hard lemonade.

Long story short, I sell them bottles of Smirnoff Ice and Budweiser to mix themselves. They choose to stay around the bar, and pretty soon it becomes obvious that although each and every one of them were drinking their 'Turbo Shandys', very few of them liked the taste.

So I ask them:

"Why are you drinking that shit if you don't like it? Why not just drink a regular beer?"
"It gets you drunker quicker." comes the reply.

Now, as a bartender, I'd heard all the myths about what gets you drunk quicker. Drinking through a straw, sipping versus gulping, you name it. It's all bullshit. So I ask him why he thinks it gets you drunker quicker.

"Duh!" He says, looking at me like I was dumb as a sack of hammers. "The beer's 5%, the Smirnoff's 5%...so this drink is 10%"

I laughed so hard I nearly shit my pants.

I actually spent a few minutes trying to explain that if you mix one 5% alcohol drink with another 5% alcohol drink...you end up with a 5% alcohol drink.

"Think about it." I said. "If that was true, you could just mix two beers and that would be 10%"

Rather than understand the concept, I saw a grin break on one of their faces. Can you guess what their next round was?

Yup, they all ordered two bottles of Budweiser, mixed them in a pint glass and congratulated themselves.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'd say alcohol was involved...if it had been invented yet.

Ever heard that old Joke? “Who was the first guy to milk a cow, and what did he think he was doing at the time?”

Well, I have a bit of a follow up to that idea. Who was the first person to actually drink the milk, knowing exactly where it came from?

“Hey, Steve! I just squeezed this white, slightly thick liquid out of those dangly things on that big animal over there! Grab a glass, tell me what it’s like!”

…No, that’s ok. I make a point of not drinking anything squeezed out of an animal.

The more you think about it, the stranger it gets. I mean, meat, I can see eating that. Hang around in the wild long enough and pretty soon you get the picture that everything eats everything else. But what about things like eggs? That’s almost as bad as milk. A flightless bird pushes a strange ovoid object out it’s stink-hole, you grab it, crack it open and find a bright yellow ball surrounded by sticky, clear goo. Not exactly the kind of thing to give you an appetite, right?

When you think about it, it’s amazing that the human race doesn’t live purely off meat, some of the less-strange looking fruits and plain old water.

Well, time to talk about what got me started on this topic.

A couple weeks ago, Sunny and I were Christmas shopping and I spotted a home brewing kit. After 2 weeks of reminding her that I moved 3500 miles to be with her and this would be my fourth Christmas away from my family…she told me to shut the fuck up and would buy me the thing if I’d keep my trap shut for fifteen minutes.

Now, my dad used to brew his own beer when I was a kid and I used to love helping him do it. (I mean ‘help’ in the sense that all five year olds ‘help’. I’d basically get in the way, ask way too many questions, be a huge distraction and generally retard the whole process).

The way I saw it was that my dad basically got to play with a huge chemistry set for a few hours (I used to watch him siphon the stuff from one tank into another and despite the hundred explanations I got as to how the liquid could flow up a pipe before flowing downwards to the other tank…I just did what all five year olds do…I didn’t listen and decided that it was magic).

So, long story short, my dad got to play with a magic chemistry set… I had some vague idea that there was maybe some kind of drink made at the end of the process but, of course, it usually took weeks or months to ferment and by then I’d totally lost interest. Plus, the fact that I’d actually tasted a sip of beer by then, I’d decided I was never, ever, even under threat of pain or death, going to drink it again.

Well, fast forward to today, and there I was with my own magic chemistry set. Of course, mine wasn’t as impressive as my Dad’s. Dad’s had two big tanks, a magic hose that makes beer flow uphill, as well as an impressive 10-gallon keg.

Mine consisted of a 2 gallon keg, a tin of brown goo, assorted sachets of powders and a butt-load of plastic bottles. It was a little underwhelming to say the least. However, an entire side of the box featured a gigantic picture of a simply ecstatic looking Asian gentleman holding what looked like a six-gallon frosty mug of beautiful amber beer.

Hell, if the Asian dude looked that happy, it’s gotta be good right?

Well, (as is always the way) I’d used the single sachet of sterilization agent and got everything nice and clean when I remembered the number one rule to beer-making.

Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Use Tap Water

That’s the number one reason that most home-brew tastes like ass. The chlorine taste throws everything off. It’s not too bad if you’re making a really dark, flavorful ale like Stout…but for lager, you might as well drink you own wee-wee.

My problem was, it was too late, I was committed. I could imagine the look on Sunny’s face if I told her we’d have to go out and find a place that sells brewing sterilizer. She’d laugh in my face and it would probably be next Christmas before I got to try it out.

Luckily, I had a brainwave and grabbed the Brita Pitcher from the fridge. I use it mainly to filter water to make coffee with it, and the difference in the taste of the coffee is amazing…so despite the fact it took about half an hour to filter enough water, I was in good shape.

I dissolved the ‘booster’ (read ‘sugar with a bit of other stuff’) into the water, brought it to the boil, took it off the heat and opened the can of brown goo.

Now, the brown goo is extra sugar and hops and all that stuff which gives the beer its taste and lets the yeast do its work.

Let’s just say I remembered the smell from my dad’s brewing sessions…but every time you smell it, it punches you in the face. It smells horrible. Think of really old cheese stuffed into a sweaty marathon runner’s sock… that’s been left out in the sun for a few days.

Anyway, I put the brown goo in the water, mixed it up and put it in the keg. After adding the required amount of water on top of that, I dropped in my sachet of yeast.

As I stirred the smelly, brown mess…I had to think to myself…

What was the first person to do this actually thinking?

I mean, seriously. We all know that this…substance…that looks and smells like the contents of a champion cheese-eater’s toilet (on a day he had explosove diarrhea) will eventually turn into a crisp, delicious beverage that’s just perfect for a hot summer’s day…but the first guy didn’t know that!

I mean, think of the other options! Apples, berries and all other kinds of fruit are delicious, you could make a drink from them! I can see it happening:

Medieval Paulius gets a buttload of apples, juices them and puts the juice in a barrel. Over time the juice ‘goes off’, but with nothing else available he drinks it anyway and gets drunk. “Hey! This isn’t too shabby!” He thinks, and over time realizes that by adding extra sugar and a bit of yeast, he can make it stronger.

However, the beer guy thought:

“Ok,I’m thirsty and this water isn’t cutting it. Llet’s see, I have some barley. Why don’t I soak this in water, let it germinate, then dry it out and roast it! That sounds like a good flavoring. Now, I’ll boil the crap out of it, along with some of these hops. Yeah, flowers and roasted grain! That’s the ticket. Add a bit of sugar… hmmm….Ok, this smells like a tramp’s codpiece... I know, I’ll put some yeast on the top! That’ll fix it!”

A Week Later:

“Hmm, the yeast seem to have multiplied and there’s a thick layer of scum on the top…and it still smells like a tramp’s codpiece. It also appears that the yeast is eating the sugar in there and pissing in my drink. I know, I’ll leave it for another few weeks and see if it magically fixes itself.”

Seriously. If I had a ‘great drink idea’ and got one whiff of the devilish concoction when I first started to mix it, it’d go down the drain.

Anyway, my first solo attempt at brewing, the beer that has been dubbed “Paulius’ Olde Perculiar” should be ready in a couple of weeks, although it says the longer you ‘condition’ it, the better…so I figure I’ll break it out and try it on my Birthday (January 23rd) and let you know how it turns out. Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Well we finally watched Spider-man 3 last night. I loved it, Sunny did too, but got pissed off because Peter and Mary-Jane didn’t get married or engaged at the end.

I disagreed, if it had a stereotypical happy ending, it wouldn’t have been Spider-Man.

Just because I can, I’m going to have a nerdgasm and ‘explain’ Spider-Man:

Spiderman was pretty much the first Superhero to deal with what you might call ‘real life’ issues. Think about it. Before Spider-Man, we had superheroes like Superman and Captain America. They fought for ‘truth, justice and the American way’…but why they fought was never really looked at in detail. Superman fought the bad guys because he was the good guy. It’s as simple as that. Spider-Man is a much deeper character.

Superman is just the ultimate good-guy. He’s had his powers since birth and has never even thought of turning to the ‘dark-side’. Also, the main difference between Superman and Spider-Man is that for Superman, Clarke Kent is the ‘disguise’. He is Superman, and Kent is the role he plays to ‘fit in’.

On the other hand, Spider-Man is really Peter Parker. It’s Spiderman that’s the disguise.

Spider-Man is a superhero you can relate to. He’s just a normal everyday guy who suddenly finds himself with Super powers. That’s what Spider-Man is all about. Not so much the epic battles with super-villains…but about how a normal guy deals with the double-life that comes along with a Superhero.

Long story short, Superman doesn’t have to worry about holding down a job, keeping his girl and making rent. Spider-Man does.

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about how I thought that anyone in real life who found themselves with super-powers would almost definitely become a super-villain rather than a Superhero. In a nutshell, when you have the power to do anything you want, it won’t be long before you will. It’s easy to be moral when society has checks and balances in place to keep you that way.

Basically, ask yourself this question… If someone you really didn’t like was getting in your face, and you knew you could pick them up and throw them right through an entire building…added to the fact you could take down an entire SWAT team without breaking a sweat…how long before you gave into temptation?

That question is what Spider-Man is all about. Peter Parker had the opportunity to stop a criminal, but didn’t, because the victim pissed him off. It was only the fact that criminal killed his Uncle that ‘set him right’. Spider-Man fights crime because of guilt…and because he’ll know what he’ll turn into if he doesn’t.

Basically, Spider-Man is a lot more ‘realistic’ (for a given value of ‘real’, you don’t get much of that in Superhero movies). Peter Parker is a normal guy with super powers. He’s not universally liked, he lives in a crappy apartment, has money worries, girl trouble and an asshole boss.

So, long story short…everything didn’t work out great at the end of Spiderman 3 because Peter Parker isn’t guaranteed a happy ending. Your average person in the street doesn’t always beat the bad guy and a get the girl…so neither does Peter Parker.

…so as I said, if it had ended with a wedding, it wouldn’t have been Spider-Man.

As an after-thought...Eric from 'That 70's Show' as Eddie Brock/Venom? Nuh-uh.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


A few posts ago I wrote about the downright awful experience I had in the local K-Mart.

In fact, I was so pissed about it (being kept waiting for over an hour for assistance when there were only 4 other customers in the store will do that to you), I went ahead and fired off an email to their customer service dept and explained in detail what had happened, how disgusted I was, and how I'd never set foot in their store again.

Today I got this back:

Dear Sir,

Thank you for contacting Sears Holdings Corporation. We apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced.

We would like to assist you with your concerns, but your email did not include your phone number. Please provide us with additional details regarding your request so that we can further assist you. For best assistance, please reply to this email with the information.

We appreciate your business, and value you as a customer. We certainly hope you will continue to make Sears Holdings Corporation your choice for quality and value.

In other words:

Dear Asshole,

We couldn't be bothered actually reading your email once we realised it was a complaint. So, we'll ask you to send us your phone-number, so one of our out-sourced, underpaid, Indian wage-slaves can catch all your shit.

In closing, despite the fact your email showed that quality and value are the exact thing you don't receive at K-Mart (in that you got your purchase from Walmart for $10 cheaper), and that as we kept you waiting for over an hour we don't value you as a customer, we can't resist sucking ourselves off again.

Bite me!

K-Mart Auto-reply Bot #5102348

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Boredom Induced WoW Comic #001

One of the many strange things about World of Warcraft is the level requirements for certain skills. No one can ride a horse until level 40, At 39 a warrior can be a master swordsman but can't wear plate armor. It made me think...Just how much skill does it take to ride a horse or wear a particular type of clothing?

Customer Service

Yesterday Sunny and I went to do a little shopping.

I was going to get one thing, some ammo for my rifle. I decided on K-Mart for the simple reason it’s the closest store to my house that sells ammo.

We left pretty much as soon as Sunny got in from work. Because it was so early (about 8.30 in the morning), when we arrived at K-Mart there were literally only about three or four other shoppers in the store.

So I head to sporting goods and arrive there to find it completely unmanned. Obviously, the ammunition is kept under lock and key, so I needed an assistant to get it for me. After waiting five minutes to see if anyone would show up, I went to find someone.

A few aisles down I see two women wearing K-Mart smocks. The two were just standing there, chatting away, so I walked up.

“Excuse me.” I said.

Ok, imagine going to a really, really classy black-tie dinner party wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts and a stained “No fat chicks” T-shirt. Then imagine squatting on the table halfway through desert and taking a crap on the hostess’s plate…that’s the look these two women gave me.

I mean, come on, they were gossiping! That’s far more important than them actually doing there jobs.

“Yeah?” One of them said.

“I need some assistance in sporting goods.” I said.

One of them gave the other what she thought was a ‘stealth’ eye-roll and without a word, took off towards sporting goods. I followed.

What surprised me was that she got within 20 feet of the sporting goods cash register, then picked up a phone and paged someone to help me. Then, without a word, she walked back and continued chatting it up with the other K-Mart monkey.

Ok, I know that she probably didn’t have the key to open the ammo case. My point is that she didn’t know that’s what I wanted. In other words, rather than spend 5 seconds to find out if she could help, she’d much rather finish her conversation than do her job.

So I find myself waiting in sporting goods for twenty goddamn minutes. No one shows up, and this time, Sunny heads off to find someone.

A few minutes later I hear another page go out over the PA system. A few minutes later, Sunny arrives back.

Again, no-one shows up and we end up waiting another 20 minutes.

At this point I’m getting pretty pissed off. I’ve been waiting nearly an hour to buy a box of Dynapoints. There are less than 4 other customers in the store and at least 10 staff members. I don’t think I’m too out of line to expect to get some service within an hour of asking for it when there’s more than 2 staff members for every customer in the store.

So I head back to the two K-Mart Monkeys who are still chatting away.

“Excuse me.” I say.


“Look, I’ve been waiting for nearly an hour now and I’ve asked two different people for help in sporting goods and no-one’s shown up. I just need a box of Dynapoints.”

In return I get a theatrical sigh, and she heads to yet another phone and starts to put out another page.

“You know what?” I said. “Don’t fucking bother. I don’t have another half hour to waste.”

So I head back to sporting goods, get Sunny and we leave the store. What pisses me off even more is that as we get to the door, there are no less than six employees standing around the customer service desk (how’s that for irony?) just chatting away.

I really felt like going over there, telling them how shitty their service was and how I wouldn’t be coming back. Then I realized that they probably wouldn’t give a shit, so we just left.

So we drive across town to Walmart. In Walmart, despite the fact the place was already half full of customers, I get to sporting goods and find someone actually at the register. Not only do I get served right then and there, I buy the same ammo, only I get a box of 550 rounds instead of 500…and it’s ten bucks cheaper.

No wonder K-Mart was nearly empty. For some reason people don’t like paying more for shit service.

Friday, December 07, 2007

An Open Letter

Dear BrotherUSA,

Considering your website is so extremely unhelpful, and you've made it almost impossible to contact you directly (at least without a long distance phonecall or sending you a message through the US Mail, which would be completely ignored), I thought I'd write an open letter to you here.

Can you please give me a reasonable explanation for the following:

1) If I leave my printer on, it 'cleans' itself every single day. This uses a significant amount of ink and it totally unnecessary. My last printer would only clean itself if you told it to, and I only actually had to use this feature once in two years. Why have you set this printer to waste massive amounts of ink for no reason?

2) Your 'status monitor' tells me my ink cartridge is empty, despite the fact a simple examination shows it to be at least 1/5th full. Why is this?

3) I want to print some normal text in black and white. My black ink is full, yet your piece of shit printer refuses to print black on white because the cyan ink is empty. Since when is Cyan needed to print black?

4) Lastly, it costs me almost a hundred dollars to buy replacement cartridges. For a hundred dollars I can print the grand total of about seven 8x10 pictures. Considering I'm providing the paper, don't you think fifteen dollars a print is a little steep? Especially when you make me throw away the ink cartridge before it's even empty.

To be honest, I know the answer to these questions. You screw your customers up the ass because you can. It's not enough that your printer ink comes to almost $8000 a gallon. You also feel the need to make me throw away ink cartridges before they're empty, force me to buy ink that I don't actually need and waste the ink I do buy by making your printer waste it on unnecessary 'cleaning'.

Oh, then you have the sheer balls by telling me I'm 'saving the environment' by sending my used cartridges back to you at my own expense. Sure, I'm 'saving the environment' by sending back a quarter-full cartridge so you don't have to spend the money to make new ones. Why not just go the whole hog and tell us we have to rent the cartridges? Maybe you could squeeze a deposit out of us for them as well.

I understand the concept that used to ring true. You sell an expensive piece of technology to us as a loss because you know you're going to make your money back on the consumables. However, considering how one set of replacement cartridges costs me almost twice what I paid for the printer...you're just taking the piss.

Anyway, I would have gone to the trouble to send this to you directly, but I know I'd either be ignored or get a bullshit response.

You suck.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm scared.

So a couple months ago I watched the "Make Love Not Warcraft" Southpark episode.

I watched it again last night. Having played the game for over a month now, half way through the episode I found myself thinking:

"Huh, they got that wrong. That guy summoned scorpions AND cast fireballs. If he can cast fireballs he's a mage and mages can't summon!"

A few minutes later, Cartman came up with the plan to stay in the forest and kill boars for XP. Again, I thought:

"That wouldn't work. You don't get XP for killing things that are more than five or six levels below you."

Then, I started wondering how Stan was wearing the armor he was wearing considering how low-level he was meant to be:

"Pffft, he's wearing a coif! You can't get those until at least level 20, and I'm pretty sure he's wearing plate leggings, which you can't even get until level 40!"

It was only then I realised what I was thinking. After a few seconds shocked internal silence I thought:

"Damn, how nerdy am I?"

I mean, just this morning I felt the need to argue against a guy on another blog because he said the Enterprise D could take down a Star Destroyer. I had all my facts at hand. The Star Trek Universe is only a type 1 culture, where the Star Wars Universe is clearly a type 2!

Summoning all my willpower I managed to stop myself from getting into a nerdfight.

Yes, I'm a nerd. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Not Merchandising, Understand? NOT Merchandising!

Sunny and I went Christmas shopping today. She’s the only woman I know who when taken into a store and told she can pick out anything she wants will pick a set of cookware.

One of the things we bought was a copy of “Pirates of the Carribean : At World’s End”. The PC version of the game of the same name also came free with the movie. I’ll be honest, when a game and a movie come bundled together for twenty bucks, I don’t expect much from the game…but I tried it out today and can honestly say I was appalled.

First of all, let me be absolutely clear. This isn’t a game like the free Xbox games you can get from Burger King. This is a ‘real’ game, currently retailing for $40 on the Xbox 360, produced by Disney Studios.

How to describe this game? For starters, we’re talking graphics that would have been called bad five years ago…and that’s not an exaggeration. Grungy textures, blocky characters that look like they’re made from about 20 polygons each, a maximum screen resolution of 1024x768 and absolutely no lighting or screen effects. In complete honestly, the graphics in this game are slightly worse than the original Halo.

When a movie based on such a huge franchise can’t match the graphical quality of a game released nearly seven years ago, something just ain’t right. Put it this way, the recommended system to run this game is a PC with 256mb of ram and a 64meg graphics card.

Next we come to the downright lazy and bugged level design. Half the time you don’t know where you are, where you’re meant to go or what you’re actually meant to be doing. You fail missions for no apparent reason and end up running around like a lunatic trying to see if there’s a place you’re meant to get to that will stop you from failing. Certain levels are simple cut-and-paste of old ones (you fight on the deck of the Black Pearl no less than five times during this game). Also, a lot of the time you’ll be fighting and the level will just end.

Yep, no structure, no apparent goal, you’re just suddenly thrust into a situation and 10 minutes later the screen will go black and you’ll find yourself at the loading screen. Again, I’m not exaggerating. You’ll be fighting a bad guy, and mid-swing the fight will just stop…then on to the next level.

As for the actual gameplay, the box promises ‘The Most Dynamic Swordplay ever!’. This is true if ‘dynamic’ means ‘absolutely terrible pile of horse shit’. You have three attack buttons. ‘Fast but weak’, ‘slow but powerful’ and ‘grab’. There are a total of three combos you can use.

Ok, so the gameplay is simple, but you must get involved in lots of interesting battles, right?


Gameplay consists of fighting three enemies at once, over and over. You kill one and another one pops up until they finally stop coming. You get the feeling there’s a ‘velvet rope’ type of situation somewhere off screen:

“Ok, he just killed Steve. Only Bob and Ken are left now. Jeff, you’re up!”

“Why don’t we all fight him at once?”

“Are you mad? No, we stick to the plan. We attack him three on one until none of us are left or the level inexplicably ends. When we’re all dead there’s another 12 guys waiting 20 yards down the road.”

Yep, that’s the other thing. When you finally do get to the end of the three-on-one battle, you get to walk a few yards… and fight three more enemies. Repeat ad nauseum. You literally do the same thing over and over throughout this whole game. Once you’ve played for 5 minutes, you’ve seen everything it has to offer.

Oh, except the boss fights, which are all one-on-one…but all your combos result in the same move.

Put it this way. I would only call this game ‘impressive’ if I found out two ten year old kids had made it in their mom’s basement.

However, the fact it’s been put out by a company as big as Disney, I wouldn’t call it bad…I’d call it absolutely disgusting. How Disney had the sheer balls to put this effluent on the shelves and call it a game is beyond me.

Let’s face it, Movie games tend to suck as a rule. In the past 20 years the only movie game I’ve ever played that was honestly good was Spiderman 2.

This problem comes down to one thing. We’re talking about a product made by people who have no idea what it is they’re actually selling. Movie games are lumped in with the rest of the merchandise. They’re viewed in the same way as the action figures, the lunchboxes and the T-shirts.

Games are simply not merchandising. They’re a form of entertainment in their own right. You can’t slap a movie character’s likeness on a 10 year old engine and call it a ‘game’. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what tends to happen. A big movie release is coming out, so there has to be a game on the shelves in Walmart on the day it comes out no matter what.

What these people need to realize is that they’re expecting us to pay two or three times more than the movie for this game. If I’m parting with between forty and sixty bucks for a game I expect to have a piece of entertainment that was worth the money. Not something that looks like it should come free inside a cereal box.

It’s that attitude that’s the problem. Games aren’t merchandising. When ‘real’ games are in development for years, cost millions of dollars to make…you can’t go to some random game studio, give them a shoestring budget and tell them they have a month or so to get something on the shelves.

Put it this way:

The first Harry Potter book was a worldwide sensation. A record breaking best-seller.

Imagine if they’d made the first movie in a week, with a budget of a few hundred dollars. It was filmed on a regular camcorder in someone’s back yard, the witches robes were home-made Halloween costumes and the magic effects were made by people chucking handfuls of glitter at each other.

Now imagine that they charged full price for a ticket to see it, and put it on sale on DVD for $20.

My point is that this is exactly what happens with movie games. The only difference is we’re expected to pay two or three times the cost of the actual movie.

So, to sum up:

1) Games aren’t merchandising.

2) The average gamer is an adult male, aged 18-35…not a 4 year old who’ll be impressed because the main character kinda looks like the actor in the movie.

3) For a game to be successful, it has to be as good as the other games on the shelves. If your game was made in a month for a thousand dollars, it just doesn’t cut it.

4) Don’t expect us to pay full price for a game made on a shoestring budget.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Some Things Can Not Be Unseen

Sometimes something can happen that really puts a downer on your whole day, perhaps your entire life..

In my favorites folder I have links to a number of ‘humorous video’ sites. Feeling a little bored, I pulled one up and started working my way through the list.

You can imagine the stuff. People falling down, dumbasses setting fire to themselves… and then I watched a video called “Granny’s reaction to ‘Two Girls one Cup’”.

This video is basically a shot of a little old lady watching a video on the internet and totally freaking out. Obviously, having not seen ‘Two girls one cup’, I had no idea what she was reacting to so I googled it.

Sometimes things are better left unknown.

So I find a link to the video and start it. The first 5 seconds of it looked like lesbian porn. Two ladies wearing not very much kissing each other.

Nice. I thought.

Then… one does a gigantic poop into a cup… then they both eat it like an ice-cream, then top it off by puking in each other’s mouths.

In that instant I permanently lost my appetite, considered canceling my internet service and seriously considered plucking my eyeballs out with a spoon.

It’s true what they say.

Some things can not be unseen.

If you feel like googling it to see what all the fuss is about…trust me…don’t.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Had a hard time coming up with anything to write about recently, so here are a few more Lolpics I made: