Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Shaq-Fu: The Movie

As I mentioned yesterday, Shaq-Fu is  possibly the most polarizing video game in the last 20 years. Although there are numerous online videos of people destroying Shaq-Fu games, there is one video that stands out above the rest. It is without a doubt the most creative movie about Shaq-Fu ever made. It is so good, not only do I wish I was in its creation, but I am thinking there is some Hollywood head honcho pondering whether a remake could be the next summer blockbuster.

This is no random destruction video. This is a legit short film, with a plot, characters, and special effects. Check it out, but be warned, you may be swayed into thinking Shaq-Fu is a good thing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Return to the Holy Temple of Shaq-Fu

Thirty-six months ago*, I discovered a group of proud warriors intent on ridding the world of what they called " the worst video game of all-time".

They are the Shaq-Fu Liberation Front and their mission is two-fold: to either destroy every copy of  the Shaq-Fu video game or drive the price of the remaining copies so high the average person could never afford to experience the sheer un-awesomeness of Shaq-Fu: The Video Game.

To see how the Liberation Movement was going 36 months* later, I sent an email to one of the websites webmasters. After establishing contact and conducting a brief interview, I found out that although their website is more popular today than at any time in their eight year history, all is not well with the Shaq-Fu Liberation Front. Besides the fact that the members have been forced to scatter across America, they have recently been met with furious opposition. A group describing themselves as the saviors of Shaq-Fu has emerged to challenge the front.

These believers in Shaq-Fu have dedicated themselves to creating new homes for Shaq-Fu cartridges and saving them from what they claim is the wicked unabashed evilness of the Shaq-Fu Liberation Front. They have sent out a request for people to send them copies of Shaq-Fu so they may find them a safe and loving home.

Shaq-Fu Liberation Front however is not scared of this new opposition. According to the Liberation Front member I spoke to, by amassing all the Shaq-Fus in one happy, joyous home, the pro-Shaq-Fu fans are indirectly limiting the Liberation Front's mission of reducing the availability of the game.

As I mentioned 36 months ago* I was not a big fan of Shaq-Fu. I played it once or twice and found it a lame rip-off of games like Double Dragon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. During our conversation, I found myself agreeing with the Liberation Front member's theory that the Shaq-Fu video game was originally a scraped idea that was dusted off when Electronic Arts paired with Shaquille O'Neal with the intent of capitalizing on Shaq's growing popularity.

(By the way,  36 months like the 36 Chambers of Shaolin. I'll admit, that is a cool coincidence.)

So who will win this epic battle for the heart and soul of a video game few cared about when it was first released? Currently, Shaq-Fu games are priced between 1.00 and 43.94 on Ebay. Will the Liberation Front get their hands on these copies and destroy them, erasing Shaq-Fu from our collective consciousness? Or will the Save Shaq-Fu Society gathers them in their loving embrace and be able to spread the gospel of their favorite martial arts video game?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hanging with Brian Posehn on Record Store Day

On Saturday I swung by my local record store, Vinyl Fever Tampa , for Record Store Day. Not only was the store packed, but they also had comedian Brian Posehn in the house signing his latest release, Fart and Weiner Jokes. Of course, when Posehn learned he was coming to Tampa, he requested I make an appearance so we could meet and he could take a few pictures with me. What can I say? I'm famous like that.

(Last three sentences may not be true.)

Yes, that is my Obituary shirt.

Oh, by the way, when I wasn't hanging with Brian Posehn, I was music shopping. When I left I was the proud owner of four new CDs:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Words of Ultimate Warrior Compel You

After finishing The Legend of Jordi Scrubbings movie a few months ago, I thought it would be a great idea to use the same animatronic-sounding, animated-looking actors of XtraNormal to recreate some of my favorite famous speeches, sayings, and scenes. Of course, I couldn't start with the Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech or even Bill Pullman's speech in Independence Day.

I had to begin with a more moving orator. One whose words have caused legions of followers to stand up and be counted. A man who took on one of the most powerful social movements of the 1980s and 1990s and won. A man who has faced death, Sean Hannity, Regis and Kathy Lee, and Arsenio Hall.

I speak, of course, of The Ultimate Warrior.

Here is my tribute to the man they call Warrior.

And in case you want to mix and match and make your own Ultimate Warrior speech, check out the Ultimate Warrior soundboard. It is good for at least a dozen minutes of high octane entertainment.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Things I wish my iPod did

With the recent release of the amazing, spectacular, jaw-dropping, terrific, fantastic, awe-inspiring iPad, I want to write a short post about the few things I wish were improved in the one Apple product I own: my 120GB iPod Classic.

Don't get me wrong, I love my iPod. It is perhaps my second favorite piece of electronic equipment behind my computer. It is better than my TV, and probably more powerful. But there are some things I wish my iPod did.

First of all, I would really like the ability to "tag" songs like I do mail in Google mail. I hate having to classify songs in one genre or another. I want to put songs or whole albums in more than one category. For example, where do I put albums like The Doors "LA Woman"? That is a blues album, but I have it in the rock list with the rest of The Doors music. And what about The Beastie Boys? Are they rock or rap?

Optimally, I'd like to completely tag an album with all appropriate labels. I would like to label Outkast as "hip-hop" and "Southern rap". Maybe put Kid Rock in "rock", "rap", and "country". And of course Spinal Tap in "rock", "metal", and "the greatest band ever". But instead I am forced to sort by directories. That's so 2003.

On a similar note, I wish I could list songs under multiple artists, especially collaborations. Back in 2007, a blog on PCWorld magazine complained about this, claiming "iPods don't understand multiple artists". For example, if a song has more than one singer/rapper/guitarist/whatever, I have to either list the song under one person or create an artist label that lists everyone on the track. If I want to listen to every song Method Man has ever been on, I should be able to find Method Man and my iPod will play everything, from solo albums to collaborations with Redman to Wu-Tang albums to one-verse cameos. As long as the song has a "Method Man" tag, it will be played when I select "Method Man".

Another complaint I have with my iPod is that it lacks the ability to play albums chronologically. When I select an artist or group, it plays the albums in alphabetical order. Why would I want to do that? For example, take a look at how Metallica is sorted on my iPod (release dates in parentheses):
  • And Justice For All (1988)
  • Death Magnetic (2008)
  • Kill Em All (1983)
  • Load (1996)
  • Master of Puppets (1986)
  • ReLoad (1997)
  • Ride the Lightning (1984)
  • St. Anger (2003)

Why would I want to listen to Metallica in this convoluted order? Why not add an option when I select an artist that allows me to choose between "chronological" or "alphabetical"? Seems simple enough.

Maybe I don't know how to do this. I am relatively new to the iPod, having gotten my first in late 2008. And I don't use iTunes either (note: here is a iTunes script for organizing songs chronologically). I'm a Mozilla fan and use Songbird to organize my music. So maybe I am sacrificing some capabilities there. I don't know.

Any suggestions?

(By the way, pic is of the iCarta iPod Toilet Paper Dispenser.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Urban Spawl as Terrorist Deterrent

Besides sports, music, culture, and cartoons, another interest of mine is geopolitics. I've been an avid reader of sites like for close to 10 years and as many of you know, I have my masters in International Affairs.

Unfortunately, I have zero interest in living in DC, the hub of American international happenings. Absolutely none. It is way too crowded and there is no beach. And everything there is so political. No thanks.

So with that in mind, and being that no one here in Tampa is paying me for my opinions, I hope you don't mind me dropping a few international analyses here. I'll try and keep them readable and somewhat linked to something happening here in the states, in Florida, or local to Tampa.

For example, I'm sure you heard of the recent subway bombings in Moscow. Once again, like in London in 2004, terrorists struck at public transportation systems, this time killing over 30 and injuring dozens more.

Meanwhile, here in Florida, plans are well on their way for a statewide rail system that would reduce traffic and help connect Miami, Orlando, and Tampa. There are also efforts and information campaigns to reduce the urban sprawl that is destroying the natural habitats of the state.

According to a 2006 article in the Orlando Sentinel,
There are some people, however, who think growth can be smarter and more compact with a stronger separation among urban, suburban and rural terrain. Smart growth means better planning and more land preserved. It looks like condos and town houses mixed with single-family homes. Those homes are closer together, linked by walking paths that lead to stores, movie theaters and offices. There may be mass transit. Smart growth in Central Florida is Baldwin Park in Orlando and Celebration by Disney. Across the nation, it's Boston and New York City.
The end state of both efforts is to have more people living amongst each other and traveling en masse.  Nearly everyone agrees this is a good thing - biologists, environmentalists, planners, and even politicians.

I bet you can include terrorists on that list.

Although we haven't had many, if any serious attacks on public transportation systems here in the U.S. (yet), the odds of mass casualties will go up dramatically when we all migrate to urban areas and do a majority of our travel on monorails and people movers. We will drastically increase our chances of being a target and make it easier for terrorists to make a large impact with minimal effort.

Don't get me wrong. I am not discouraging efforts to reduce urban sprawl. To be honest, I hate seeing Best Buys, malls, and housing developments built for no reason in the middle of natural Florida environments. It's sickening.

I'm just saying I hope we prepare for the increased chances of possible terrorist attacks, either from international organizations or nutjob domestic groups. Keep in mind, this may require increased physical security and surveillance.

Is reducing urban sprawl and highway traffic worth the trade-off?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ignore, Absorb, Respond

I've been doing some internal, metaphysical navel-gazing on the subject of audiences. I've been writing for nearly a decade now and I like to think I have some understanding of what it takes to be appreciated by the masses as a writer.

(Either that or I am full of crap. Because of course, I have never been the bee's knees as a writer. Me writing about being a well-known-New-York-Times-Best-Selling-author would be like me writing about success in dating and relationships. There is no doubt I would be full of crap.)

The way I see it, the audience has three choices when encountering a piece of media:

1) Ignore - Simple enough. They can choose not to read it, watch it, listen it, whatever. They can skip the link, turn the channel, change the station, or skip the track. They do not partake and they do not care. Every writer starts off here. I remember the first article I ever wrote for the FSU student newspaper. I think only three people read it - me, my mother, and my college roommate, and he probably only read it to get out of buying beer that night.

(That article was terrible. I wrote about radiation and tried to tie it to checkout scanners at the university library. I asked the head of the library if students could become impotent because of the scanning devices. Seriously. On a positive note, it was the only article I ever wrote that was drastically edited. From then on, my editors barely changed anything.)

2) Absorb - Readers can lend an open ear to what you have to say. They can be passive participants. This is where old media stops. Writers today don't want to be old media. They don't want to talk at their audience. Even if the audience listens, if you want to be build loyalty and community, you should want one more step.

(Admittedly, this is where I struggle sometimes. Sometimes my academic leanings creep in to my writing and it becomes more informative than discussion-based. I'm working on better blending the two, both in online and in real-life conversations. Trust me, it's tough to pick up girls at a bar when you overpower the conversation.)

3) Respond - This is the key to new media. This is the premise in which Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are built. But of course, you can't have response without absorption. You want people to see and want to add. Writers today need to give fans that option. New media absorbers expect it. They feel a desire to participate. Anything else feels like too much like old media. That's ok for a book - something with a good story, or something filled to the brim with new information.

But if you want to be successful online, you need to connect. Hit them where they care.

What do you guys think? Am I kinda close? Do those steps sound right? Or is my navel-gazing blinded by the belly button lint of ignorance?

(For more reading on blogging and how to be an online success, check out Matthew Cerrone's blog. Matthew is the founder, editor, and principal writer of the successful and he knows his way around the web.)