Archive for December, 2003

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Windwaker

December 30, 2003

link.jpgIf you value your job, your marriage, everythying that’s good in your life, do not get this game.

That was the advice given to me back in ’99 just before I went out and bought The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. But since I’d been a fan of the previous game, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, I had to do it. And what a game. Ocarina of Time is the best video game of all time. Period. On any hardware; computer, console, whatever. The best. And I’m hardly alone in that assessment. I saw on the G4 channel one day that its viewers had selected Ocarina of Time the number two video game of all time, right behind the original Super Mario Bros..

And now we all got a Nintendo GameCube for Christmas. And of course what’s a Nintendo game console without the latest retelling of the classic Legend of Zelda game? Nothing, that’s what. So we also got Legend of Zelda: Windwaker. I doubt I’ve completed half of the game already, but I can assure you that it’s fantastic. Shigeru Miyamoto and his team have done it again. I highly, highly recommend it.

Is it better than Ocarina of Time? Perhaps I’ll reserve that judgement until I finish the game.

UPDATE: I just got a copy of Electronic Gaming Monthly in the mail. The cover story is “Top 15 Games of the Millennium (& Their Sequels for 2004)”. Taking the number one slot: the Legend of Zelda. I rest my case.

Another UPDATE: Filter did a show on “The Top 50 Games of 2003” on G4 the other day. I’m not sure why anyone would want a “top 50 list” as 50 seems too inclusive to be useful. Give me a top 10 or 20 any day. In any case, the contenders for the top slot were Windwaker and Soul Calibre II. Even though Zelda didn’t win top game of 2003, I think coming in second really makes my point: it’s a fantastic game. (And besides, what were they thinking? Voting some rock ’em sock ’em, super-repetetive fighting game the number one game of the year? Please. The genre itself just isn’t worthy.)

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Merry Christmas

December 26, 2003

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Quote of the Week

December 22, 2003

“I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I went downstairs to get my book and I ended up making a meatloaf and returning with a cup of tea.”
– me

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Tolkien, Heroic Prose and Me

December 21, 2003

There are many reasons why someone might not like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, just as there are many reasons why someone might not like Peter Jackson’s recent film adaptations of the work. One of those reasons, for example, might simply be the sheer length of the story. Some readers or movie-goers are ill-disposed to enjoying stories which can’t be told in 350 pages or 120 minutes. I can appreciate that. I do not hold such persons in contempt. But there is one kind of Tokien-disliker that I take issue with. It’s the anti-heroism type.

Sprinkled throughout Tolkien’s work you find characters saying heroic lines of Shakespearean prose with utter sincerity. There’s no irony in these lines. There’s very little in the way of comic relief. There is no joke to be made out of it. Neither Tolkien, nor Jackson, nor the actors make a joke out of such lines as “I will not let the White City fall.” You could not have such a line in your average Hollywood action movie. It cannot be delivered with a wink at the audience or the reader. It must be utterly sincere or it flops.

Peter Jackson’s film adaptations sometimes let these lines stand just as Tolkien wrote them. And sometimes they get toned down. Thus these memorable lines from Return of the King

Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.

become simply “I will kill you if you touch him!” But in either case, the necessity for sincerity holds. These lines cannot be delivered with the same smirk and wink seen, for example, in the average Will Smith cop movie. (I happen to like Smith, don’t get me wrong. His movies are just of a radically different style and he plays a very modern type of hero in them.)

Which brings me to the Tolkien disliker I mentioned. This person reads (or watches) such lines of prose, with their deadly seriousness, and feels embarrassed. It is almost as if they are so cynical and modern that they cannot allow heroic words such as these to stir their hearts. The prose appeals to certain ideas and emotions: heroism, nobility, valor, honor. They apparently cannot give themselves over to these emotions without blushing.

I think this distinction between people carries over into other areas of life. There are those who are keen to “stand up for what is right.” And there are those who are just as keen not to stand up for fear that they may appear foolish.

I myself am quite ready to stand up and appear foolish. (A dubious quality that can be readily verified by anyone who knows me well.) Maybe this is one of the reasons why Tolkien’s tales of valor and honor appeal to me so much. Because I can still believe in such things.

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Random ROTK Reactions

December 18, 2003

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* Wow. Just wow.

* I’m Amazed that any filmmaker managed to make a trilogy that didn’t suck by the end.

* I’m Amazed that any filmmaker managed to adapt written work for the big screen and not cheapen the memory of the books.

* I’m very sorry that this ride is over. (Except for the ROTK Extended Edition DVD!)

* I’m going to see it again in the next week or two.

* I may re-read the Lord of the Rings this winter.

* The most unbelievable part of this fantasy film was the idea that any man would choose Liv Tyler over Miranda Otto. Aside from that, I was sold 🙂

* I can’t tell whether it was my favorite of the three or not. I think I’ll have to see it again to even begin approaching that question.

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I Don’t Care!

December 16, 2003

lotrmug.jpgThat’s right. I’m a big nerd and I don’t care. I’m going to see The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. and I’m really excited and I don’t even care how pathetic and nerdy it is. In fact, this picture is me drinking out of my Burger King collectible Fellowship of the Ring goblet during dinner tonight. The one that lights up. See the red light in the base? Yeah, baby. Big, huge, total nerd.

This is going to be so cool. Naturally I bought tickets in advance. Naturally I’ll be there at least an hour before curtain so I can get good seats. I will not, however, be dressed up in Middle-earth clothing. (Angela said no.) The evening’s rather simple schedule looks like this:

6 p.m. – Various friends and family meet at my house. All 19 of us!

6:30 p.m – Get in line at the theatre.

7:30 p.m. SHOW TIME!

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Ace of Spades Played Out

December 14, 2003

saddam.jpgI woke up to the news playing on my clock radio this morning: Saddam Hussein has been caught. This has got to be good news for the Iraqi people. My wife said she wondered how they knew it was really him and not one of his infamous doubles. I suggested that the CIA probably had (clandestinely acquired) fingerprints on file for people like him. I was wrong, though. They didn’t use fingerprints to verify his identity. They used DNA. Who knows where and how they got a sample to match him with.

Good ol’ Saddam had been hiding out in a hole in the ground when they finally closed in on him. Right across the river from the palaces he built. Nice touch. Bravo to the military and intelligence personnel who finally tracked down this skunk. The ace of spades has now been dealt, played…and finally discarded.

See you at the trial, Mr. H.