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All posts for the month January, 2007

PICS & VIDS

Girls, gambling, and guns. That pretty summed up Steve’s bachelor party, which Dan organized like a champ. It was easily the best Vegas trip I’ve made, although I actually saw very little of Vegas. It is still, to me, the quintessential heart of the Americana. The excess and pregnancy, wrapped in thick curtains of cigarette smoke, bespeaks the packaged American dream. It is a romantic place, and by romantic I refer to the zeitgeist of emotions over social conformity, the classic romance. Greed, lust, gluttony, in omnigrade amnesia, artificial, yet so good. After all, Vegas is a consensual place.

I was lucky enough to meet many of Steve’s friends whom I’ve never known, and I knew kin when I saw it. They were awesome people, from whom I felt privileged to rob money from at Hold’em. In the middle of the weekend, Saturday night, we even met up with Cindy’s side, the eleven girl doppelgangers to our ten. We went to club Tao in the Venetian (where we stayed) and it was a cool joint. I’m not much for clubbing, at least not that kind of clubbing, but it was fun. The other kind of clubbing, however, was damn fun, although I wasn’t able to bring back enough stories to get Xstine jealous. She had spent the weekend oogling at her Korean soaps man.

I miss Vegas already. I especially miss the old Strip, the cheesy neon vines that draped what was popular in the 80’s. Today’s Strip, while brighter, was made of LCD displays and yuppie casino resorts with high minimum bets designed to milk your money as fast as possible. Touristy. While Vegas has always been about spectacle, it seems some of the charm and nostalgia is creeping away. One observation explains it all: slot machines were uncomfortably silent until I realized that inserting coins was archaic, and game cards with digital readouts were rendering the excitement mute.

Anyways, the trip marks an important point for Steve, and I echo Freddy’s thoughts that “I learned a lot” on this trip. To me, it was astonishing how people so various and unconscious of each other can be brought together so smoothly through one person. It’s almost fractal how these friendships begin their cycles as Steve and Cindy’s peaks and transforms. Can there be a better argument for consensual excess? Should there even be one against? Sin city has the answers, and you’ll have to lose yourself there to find out.

P.S. The deagle is FUCKING AWESOME.

Yeah, ok, I'm finally done with the subject. It just feels so good to have seen this from miles away. The indulgence in criticism, vulturey I call it, really should be man's eighth sin. I've always felt the critical (and commerical) success of a console has always been linked to its controller. From the Atari 2600's emancipating joystick, to the NES' revolutionary gamepad, to Sega Genesis' sleek but uncomfortable three-button pad, to the classic SNES, to the alienating N64, to the re-classic PS pad, to the Buick-sized XBox controller that was slimmed to a successful "Japanese"-style precursor to its latest bit of perfection, and so forth.

So it comes as no surprise, then, as the sell through rate of PS3s declines on the black market and at retailers, Sony brazenly claims their SIXAXIS controller, an engineering marvel they claimed at E3 to have no gimmicks, had won an Emmy. They gloried in the announcement. They squirmed like a teenager rolling in a vat of oiled Maxims, and prematurely immaculated their product. A day later, they recanted, saying they had jumped the gun. The Emmy was given not to their SIXAXIS, rumbleless from the Immersion spat, but to the PS One controller, in conjunction with Nintendo. Ouch! Holy wax-affixed feathers, Batman!

On the bright side, video game publisher stocks took flight today. Pity I got knocked out of my Activision stop, but it was a high stop and I'm happy with the trade. I've been watching Sony stock too (SNE) but it seems like there is too much weakness, despite breaking out of its channel. But news about poor sell-thru, which isn't really news to anyone who's gone to Best Buy recently, cast a big glaring sun, daring them to rise higher on their borrowed wings.

Having never seen his other movies, I still should have realized Robert DeNiro was going to be a perfectionist as a director, as he is as an actor. It’s been so long that I had almost forgotten the pleasure of watching a film as nuanced and rich as The Good Shepherd. There wasn’t a wasted sequence in the three hours it ran, and the irony didn’t escape me that half the theater walked out on a movie whose title implied the blissful masses were the CIA’s sheep.

DeNiro’s character, based on Gen. “Wild Bill” Donovan, once said that conservatives were those who believed people were flawed, and liberals were those who believed people could be changed. DeNiro’s film, particularly in this war, is a daring discussion about the motives, good or wrong, for sacrificing liberties (and how much!) at wartime.

Wild Bill, who ruthlessly hired socialists, liberals, and even communists in his intelligence battle, was a viciously pragmatic man, and he defended his men to the end when the OSS was investigated by the McCarthyists. He said “We face an enemy who believes one of his chief weapons is that none but he will employ terror. But we will turn terror against him…
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In the deft hand of a chessmaster, 2007 was swapped sharply with 2006, a cumulation of the years gambols and decisions, and the two were abreast just a moment before 2007 secured its checkmate, and 2006 was whisked away to join the year-end spoils. For me, time is a game, neither linear nor predictable with its human players, but played for a finite round before we try to wash the board to start anew. Yet players remember. There was a lot to remember this year. And that makes the next game different, even as we knock off dates in the same sequence.

  • For my first dream for the Year of the Pig, I dreamt that I ate my cat, and she was very tasty. Therefore my New Year's Resolution is to NOT eat my cat, and use guilt as an excuse to post cute kitty pictures.
  • Also for the New Year, Xstine's company Emdigo released their Actionscreens on the Verizon network, and you can check out the Marvel deck here. Some of their cards are absolutely lovable, especially the holiday set.
  • Bungie warms my heart by letting our troops beta-test Halo 3 for Xmas. Halo still sucks, but at least it sucks festively. 😉
  • IGF's list of this year's finalistsfor best independent games is here, and it's time to get crackin' at it!
  • I learned how to play Mahjong. Actually I didn't, I learned that the game mechanics of Mahjong, while simplistic, belied a wealth of playing etiquette that for the Chinese culture were as important to the "play" as the rules. While the culture shock led to quite a bit of stubbornness on my part trying to wrap my head around what was essentially a game of manners and custom designed to facilitate social gestures, it did show me why the appeal of Mahjong is so strong to the asian community. Western and Japanese game design is a far cry from being able to capture the casual asian gamer market that I saw.
  • Finally, we begin the new year with 90% of our wedding logistics taken care of, a huge relief for us in return for a hectic week in L.A. I'll be expecting you all to be bringing your hot girlfriends and rich boyfriends. Right? RSVP for two, don't be shy.