Since everyone else does these bloody things, I thought I’d toss my own list out there. This is the first part of what will undoubtedly be one of the most epic posts in the history of the internet. In 2123 the great-great-grand-second-nephew of Rick Riley will proclaim this series of posts the Magna Carta of interweb posting on a retrospective documentary detailing early 21st century lifestyles. Then he will turn on his jetpack and fly to Neptune to take out a hostile band of aliens from the galaxy Nefaria. A note of disclaimer: the following list is in no particular order, and consists solely of events, items and curious incidentals which at one point or another have caused me to shimmy my buttocks in a happy dance while wearing nothing but socks and boxers. Without further ado:
Fallout 3: “War. War never changes.” Ron Perlman’s narration begins an epic game which finds the player leaving the safe confines of the vault for the Wasteland-a post-apocalyptic Washington DC overrun with Super Mutants, Raiders, feral ghouls and all sorts of other beasties. Development Studio Bethesda gives the player complete freedom over the game, allowing one to tackle the main quest or dozens of side quests at their own pace. If you’re familiar with the studio’s previous effort, the mammoth RPG Oblivion, you’ll appreciate the improvements in combat (with the target VATS system, which works kind of like a digital 20 sided die), graphics, sound and overall playability. You can spend nearly a hundred hours playing without touching the main objectives at all. After beating the game as a “good” character, I decided to begin from scratch and play as a real bastard. Few moments in gaming history have given me as much joy as pressing a detonator which set off a nuclear warhead that obliterates one of the few remaining functional settlements of the game. There are few moral quandaries more satisfying as deciding whether or not to pay a Scavenger for needed ammo, or just taking out the Ripper and gutting him from head to toe, then pickpocketing the corpse for what you need. Taking audio cues from Bioshock, Fallout integrates a pair of radio stations, one carrying patriotic messages and music from President Malcom McDowell, the other playing old-timey crooners, which adds to the creeptastic atmosphere. There’s few things moe disturbing than getting bashed around the head and neck by a giant mutant while ella fitzgerald quietly sobs for lost love in the headset. Even better, the studio has announced downloadable add-ons for XBOX360 owners that should be available by springtime, which will add dozens more hours of mutant blasting.
1. Doris Kearnes Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”: Granted this came out in ’05 to much ballyhoo and acclaim, and earned Goodwin the Pulitzer Prize, but its cache rocketed once the title became permanently affixed to the Obama transition team’s strategy of putting together a cabinet consisting of people that would have gladly nudged him in front of fast moving oncoming traffic mere months ago. The narrative details Lincoln’s gift for grassroots politics, his ability to forgive grudges against rivals and keen insights on reading public sentiment as the tools which first, won him the 1860 nomination against candidates thought better suited to the job, and as the country ripped itself apart in the Civil War, Lincoln harnessed these gifts as a means to keep an administration (largely) loyal to his desired course of action. For those that are historically challenged, please allow me to spoil the end for you: the north wins and lincoln gets shot to death.
I Love You Beth Cooper (Larry Doyle)-Jesus I hope this guy publishes more stuff. I haven’t laughed so hard reading since Youth In Revolt. Here’s a quick summation: A nerdy high school valedictorian that no one has ever seemed to notice to use his graduation speech to say “fuck it” and a)Tell anyone and everyone who has ever crossed his path what he really thinks of them, tearing folks a new bunghole along the way and b) telling the lady of his dreams (3 guesses as to her name) that he fancies her. After this, hilarious hi-jinx ensue. Think of this movie as if Say Anything was put into novel form, except Diane Court was a chain-smoking alcoholic nympho with a nice career as late-night Denny’s waitress waiting for her instead of a scholarship to England. Also, expect slightly less kickboxing and Clash on the sound track, but a hair more lesbian experimentation. Apparently, the movie version comes out summer ’09 and stars the cheerleader from Heroes, which means it will probably be billed as “Superbad meets Say Anything” except it won’t really be anything like that and I’ll just be bitter that’s someone got paid to steal my byline.
2. Rhapsody music service: If you love music, then Rhapsody is like crack cocaine, if all the crack cocaine you wanted to consume cost you $15 a month and didn’t lead to cold sweats, paranoia, convulsions, manic fist fights with biker gangs, stealing money from your kids’ piggy bank, scabbies, and eventual death from one’s heart bursting inside the chest. With over six million songs in the data base, a simple user interface, easy to create playlists and a better internet radio service than Pandora, Rhapsody is the best way to listen to music online. Not only was I able to find anything and everything from mainstream artists like Springsteen, U2, REM and others, I’m constantly amazed my the staple of independent artists i find on their site. A quick check of my artists page finds diverse acts like the New Dumb, the Mishaps, Atom and His Package, Lifetime and more right at my fingertips. I can’t recommend this site strongly enough.
DarkHorizons.com: as a movie nerd, this is my one stop shop place to grab all the latest headlines. Whether it’s all the latest bits of trade gossip, updates on the status of upcoming films or behind the scene interviews with the cast and creators, Dark Horizon has it all. On top of that, there’s a massive directory of movie trailers, most available in high def. It’s the perfect way to treat a Sunday morning hangover. Finally, the site excludes a “talk back”forum, so you don’t have to have your manhood challenged, nor the integrity of one’s mother’s virtue called into doubt simply because you didn’t feel like a season 3 episode of Heroes is the television equivalent of filling a potato sack with cherubic little infants, then smashing said bag repeatedly over a rock.
Okay that’s it for part one. Part two is a mere twenty four hours away. Digg it people.
Chuck Ragan (ex-Hot Water Music, though if you’re reading this blog, ‘duh’
So, the four regular readers of this site may have noticed a prolonged absence for the past few months. Sorry about that. There’s no real reason except that my full time job hit its busy season post-Thanksgiving (and we’re not even retail!), I’m back in school and bit off a bit more than I can chew with two intensive writing courses, my wife’s having a tough go with her job so SupportiveHusband man has his duties, and on top of that I just started doing stand-up comedy and some event planning. Something had to give, and that thing I had to leave behind for awhile was the site and the podcast. I don’t think anyone wanted to read a few dozen “Today I ate a burrito, and put together a few training modules for my staff. Also, whenever Ice is onscreen during the new ‘American Gladiators’, it moves just a tiny bit, and I’m not entirely comfortable with myself at this moment. That said, I think we’re back up to speed, and this site should be updated on a much more consistent basis. The standup has gone pretty well so far. People laugh at all the right moments, no one’s pelted me with rotten fruit, and my bit about spinning of a new show from “To Catch A Predator” featuring pedophiles luring kids off playgrounds and into the trunks of ’89 honda Accords is going GANGBUSTERS! Much appreciation goes to Matt and Rob of the Laugh Track for giving me three straight months of shows. By the way, there is no better way to spend $5 the first Tuesday of the month. Word of mouth is catching on, and every show is attracting a higher level of comedian and larger turnout. Hopefully we’ll be sitting down with these two guys soon for a podcast. So, hopefully PFCC is back for good. There was the thought of changing this to “Minimum Rock & Roll”, but Chump Change has been the brand name, so to speak, for over a decade. Why change what kinda sorta works? Look for some new podcasts, reviews of Dead Mechanical’s, Cloak/Dagger’s, Lemuria’s and Ben Weasel’s latest works in the coming weeks, along with a post-Chilifest wrapup and hopefuly some exciting(!) news on events I’ve got lined up.And hey, if you missed me, drop me a welcome back comment so I know you care.