Doom 3 Has Gone Gold

Apparently, Doom 3 is ready to go for shipping, the week of August 2.

Prepare for large-scale productivity slow-down, particularly in the tech sector.

Doom 3 will require some serious horse-power, which will limit its immediate impact, but this title will definitely move hardware. Hopefully, id Software’s latest release can compete with the Earth-crushing hype.

Update 7.22.04
With their exclusive review, PC Gamer gave Doom 3 a 94% and pretty much foamed at the mouth about how great it is. Sounds pretty good. Keep an eye on the Game Rankings page to get a good aggregate impression as others get their hands on it.

Geoffrey the Giraffe Runs the 3rd Circle of Hell

In Dante’s Inferno there is a special place reserved for the gluttons. It is the 3rd Circle, where they lay in mud, besieged by snow, hail and filthy water, guarded by Cerebus*. I do not doubt that their moans of misery and cries of greed fill the dark skies of this region of Hell, just inside the Gates.

While I’m sure the interiors are much brighter, the inside of Toys ‘R’ Us sounds about the same.

I haven’t been inside of one of these temples of child-targeted marketing and consumerism in a few years, at least. Perhaps it’s because I buy my gaming software at EBX, perhaps it’s because I’m an adult, or perhaps it’s because I don’t collect ‘figurines’ of my favorite movie and comic characters. Regardless, I’ve had little occasion to enter Geoffrey’s domain. Until now.

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Initial Thoughts on The Roots’ The Tipping Point

The Roots just released their latest album today, The Tipping Point. After one listen through, I rate this album comparably to Phrenology. It’s an uneven album, with good, solid songs and songs I just don’t like and/or get. It’s got some solid tracks, but like Phrenology, it’s got some of that over-wrought R&B male vocal crap that drives me nuts. I understand that many people love listening to that style of R&B, but I do not. Also, some of these featured guest vocalists just pale next to Black Thought, who I’d much rather hear.

Worth a purchase? Probably. If you’re a Roots fan, you’ll most likely enjoy it as much as their previous album.

My favorite tracks after one listen:

– Don’t Say Nuthin’
– Guns are Drawn
– Web
– Boom!

The rest are either just OK or I could do without. The Roots are still great live (at least as of this past New Year’s), but I’m not so sure I’m feeling their album work as much anymore. They’re definitely moving in a particular direction, so I don’t think they’re ‘losing it,’ per se. I’m just not as interested in coming along for the ride.

That being said, Things Fall Apart is still one of the best hip-hop albums ever made, so at least listen to that if you haven’t already.

The DHL Occupying Force

Have you seen as many DHL trucks as I have recently? I think it’s related to their new ad campaign. Alisa and I saw it a few weeks ago and the day after I started seeing their trucks all over the place.

Now that’s a well-coordinated campaign. But it’s not just the coordination that’s making it so effective. It’s also the new identity.

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Kent Lew’s Whitman

I had the fortune recently to get myself a license for Whitman, a beautifully functional serif family. It’s built on a foundation of classic design structure, with a distinctly modern style. Whitman, named for the poet, is probably best summed up by the designer himself.

“While this design is thoroughly modern in its styling, I tried to instill in Whitman some of the traditional values of classic text types. I sought to create a type which, although hopefully distinctive, might appear somewhat ordinary at first glance and behave itself well in text.”

Lew is right on the money.

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A Contrasting View of Fahrenheit 9/11

I was recently pointed to an article written by Christopher Hitchens for Slate, the online news outlet. It’s a strong case for ignoring Fahrenheit 9/11, which stirred up some lingering thoughts I’ve been having.

It presents many interesting refutations of Moore’s film, and what he proposes as fact. What drives Hitchens crazy is what tugged at the back of my mind while watching the film: Moore presents any and all arguments against the Bush administration and their actions, without anchoring his own position. Moore tries to create a sympathy-free zone for Bush and his administration.

Essentially, Hitchens’ point, minus factual refutations, boils down to:

“I know, thanks, before you tell me, that a documentary must have a “POV” or point of view and that it must also impose a narrative line. But if you leave out absolutely everything that might give your “narrative” a problem and throw in any old rubbish that might support it, and you don’t even care that one bit of that rubbish flatly contradicts the next bit, and you give no chance to those who might differ, then you have betrayed your craft. If you flatter and fawn upon your potential audience, I might add, you are patronizing them and insulting them.”

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Fahrenheit 9/11

Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 is a blistering and scrutinizing condemnation of George W. Bush, and the administration he represents. Moore presents a case with about two or three major threads. He presents his argument on how, through political connections, media connections, and Congressional weakness, Bush was falsely placed at the head of the U.S. government by the Supreme Court, not the voters. He reveals Bush’s faltering record not only as a business man, but also as a politician (pre-September 11th), making an argument that he continues to be this incompetent. The body of the attack in this film is split between the Bush family’s connections to the Saudi royal and Bin Laden families, an unsterilized view of the realities of war both for U.S. soldiers and Iraqis, and the use of America’s poor to fight for the benefit of the richest.

The film covers such a broad range of emotions, that I came out of the theatre unsettled and shaken, but further motivated against Bush. Moore’s sense of humor is consistent with the rest of his films, which usually let the subjects create their own absurdity, but he also tosses in movie clips and funny musical choices to amplify the sometimes astounding events he is describing and showing. This humor is dramatically offset by the revolting and terrible war footage of both Iraqis and U.S. soldiers killing and being killed. This horror is also set against the unbearable anguish of Lila Lipscomb, a mother of two veterans, who lost her son to the war. It was hard not to cry with pain and rage, as others in the theatre were, as her unbearable and unquenchable ache for her son came pouring out on her visit to D.C. In fact, one woman passing by Lipscomb, speaking to a protester outside of the White House actually accused her of being part of a staged event and questioned her about where her son was killed. Nice. Hurrah for another Bush apologist.

Ultimately, Michael Moore is a left-wing political bomb-thrower, but his film Fahrenheit 9/11 makes arguments that are as strong as or stronger than those made by the Bush administration to fund and start a war. If you swallowed the logic of the administration’s chain of facts (which flip-flopped after the attacks on the U.S.), this film is a searing condemnation of that administration and its leader. Even if you ignore the implications of unsavory and wide-spread war-profiteering and outright manipulation of global politics for the gains of businessmen (the Saudis and the Bushes), the demonstration of George W. Bush’s incompetence in the face of, well, presidency and responsibility, is very damning.

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Le Tigre Kick Ass(es)

I’ve recently started listening to Le Tigre, and I’ve come to one conclusion: they kick ass. They’ll kick your ass, my ass, anyone’s ass.

So far, we’ve purchased Le Tigre and the From the Desk of Mr. Lady EP. Both kick ass, as I mentioned. I prefer the more prevalent drum machine beats in the EP, but they still rock hard and rock well on their eponymous album.

I’ve been a in a very rock ‘n’ roll mood for a few months now. Interpol, The Strokes, Doves, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand, The Shins, Radiohead… I’m even breaking out some of my old punk albums (Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys, etc.). I think my DJ/ turntablist/ hip-hop-centric days are over. Le Tigre is just the most recent step in this personal trend.

Who will be next? Nobody knows. But Le Tigre will still be kickin’ ass.

Spellbound

This documentary’s basic premise is to follow eight kids as they try to win a national spelling bee. It sounds a bit lame, but the actual result is far more intriguing. The film’s first segment is… difficult. These kids are A) coming out of a very challenging situation, or B) very different from their peers, or C) frightening in their intensity, or D) going through the rough beginnings of the most ungainly period in human development, or E) some combination of the preceding. However, once past the initial groundwork, the film becomes a fascinating and unbearably suspenseful narrative.

Because it’s a documentary, it’s a bit like Band of Brothers. Anyone can go at any time. It’s usually not pretty, and it’s never happy (though some take it in a very healthy manner). Also, the patterns of presentation are varied (often with an aim to fake you out) to eliminate any predictability that might emerge in the pattern of competition and elimination.

It’s a surprisingly powerful and revelatory film, revealing so many subtle threads in the fabric of family, culture, society, childhood, middle America, and competition. Give it a try.

But damn, people. Damn. I thought the wedding subculture was messed up, but this stuff almost takes the cake (no pun intended). It’s not so much the specifics, as it is the sometimes bizarre intensity.

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Aimee Mann Live

Alisa and I saw Aimee Mann at the TLA last night. It was fun and Alisa really enjoyed seeing one of her favorite singer/songwriters.

A few observations from the performance:

First off, Mann is very good at what she does. Her delivery is tight. She does very true-to-the-album versions of her songs, with the support of a well-coordinated band. She keeps the banter funny and to the point (actually, it was really funny, but that’s another story).

I’m not the biggest fan of her stuff, but it’s good. It’s catchy but not annoying or shallow. She is, in all respects, a talented professional musician. She reminds me of Ben Folds. She can probably churn out Solid, Listenable, Melancholy Aimee Mann Songs, one after the other, just like Folds can churn out Catchy, Peppy But Dark, Ben Folds Songs until the Sun goes cold. And, like Folds, if you don’t get her solo stuff, you won’t really like any of her stuff. But if you do like it, you’ll end up enjoying every successive album.

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