Monday, May 12, 2008

Some Reviews, Some Politico Speak, Some Flotsam

Am I ready to weigh in, finally? After just under two weeks with the game, am I ready to tell you it's everything everyone says it is?

Yeah, basically. Look, you can hear all the reasons why the GTA4 is amazing [clever mission design; a smaller yet living city to run amok in; a story that isn't all irony and stereotypes] on a million other sites. I don't know that I really have anything I could add. On the negative: the targeting still gets wonky at inconvenient moments; it's damn near impossible to clear anything higher than a three star wanted level; and even the likable characters are pretty reprehensible in their own way. Is any of that enough to dull the thrill of rocketing into Times Square so fast the scenery blurs and firing a speed bike off that stunt jump? Or of flying a helicopter through Manhattan at night, with the skyscrapers lit up like Christmas trees, only to bail out into a gorgeous ragdoll freefall into the Hudson River? No, no it is not. If you've ever played a GTA, you need to get your hands on it, period. This is a system-selling game.

Took a break from the carnage to see Iron Man on Saturday. It too, is what everyone says it is, and I dare say I might rank it second only to Batman Begins in my hierarchy of superhero movies. I definitely liked it better than any of the Spider-Man movies [no slight to Raimi and co., but Downey Jr. is just so damn charismatic!].

Lady Trail asked me if I still maintain that Iron Man is filler until The Dark Knight comes out. Yeah, I do. For me, anyway. I think Nolan's film will be too dark and depressing for those who enjoyed the fun and freewheeling heroics of Iron Man, but that's what you go to a Batman film for.

I'm wondering if Favreau resurrected his old 'Dinner for Five' show on IFC to commemorate the film. I always loved that show, and a sit down with Favreau, Downey, Paltrow, Bridges and Howard would be downright heavenly to me.

Flipping through the latest issue of Esquire I read the cover story on Barack Obama--well, an Esquire article is always more about the person writing it than the person being written about, but I'll forgive the self indulgence in this case since the argument was valid.

In short, writer Charles P. Pierce doesn't buy into Obama's message of hope and optimism, of America turning things around and reasserting its position as the leader of the free world because he doesn't feel the American people deserve it, because of the complicity they have displayed in the country's politics.
We have not been a great country for a very long time, the cynic believes, and it does us no good to claim otherwise. We are not an honest and decent people in our politics, in the way we deal with one another as a political commonwealth. We will trade away our most precious rights in exchange for a bag of magic charms, and even when we find out that these include the black prison, the waterboard, and the secret microphone, we’ll think we got the better of the deal...

Why would anyone have faith in America, which is not tough but fearful, not smart but stupid, and not shrewd but willing to fall for almost anything as long it comes wrapped in a flag? Why would anyone have faith in Americans? Barack Obama says that he has that faith because of his own life, because he was able to rise to the point where he can be thought of as president of the United States. He is the country’s walking absolution. That’s his reason, the cynic thinks, but it’s not mine. There has to be confession. There has to be penance. Being Barack Obama is not enough. Not damn close to enough.
Those are the highlights, but the whole piece is worth a read. I suspect Mr. Pierce is already getting a boatload of fan mail from the piece, on all sides. But bless him for having the balls to say it.

And, because I love thrilling and terrifying stories of the Japanese mafia, voila!

On a personal note, I would like to point out I have an honest to god Ice Cream Truck that goes through my neighbourhood everyday at 5.00ish, complete with a chimey song, which is not a familiar tune but one I will be happy to sing to you whenever I see you.

This fact gives me joy on a level I can barely explain. No matter how bad your day was, when that music hits off in the distance, you have to laugh. Non-negotiable.


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