Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stop Me If You've Heard This One

A Nazi woman and a Jewish guy go to Vegas.

You're right. It's not very funny.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Know Your Mollusks

The other day, Wife and I went to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (or, as it's known to the article- and preposition-challenged nation of Japan, Night Museum 2). Normally I pass on this kind of movie, but there's a theater in Kichijoji where tickets are ¥1000 all throughout your birth month, and Wife was psyched to watch yet another film in which Ben Stiller talks to animals, so our fate was sealed.

(Jeez, to think that ¥1000 for a movie ticket actually sounds like a bargain to me now....)

Now, I'm sure I've said before that people who work in marketing are prone to making astonishingly bad decisions, but the Japanese marketing of this film has been a brave, new world of nonsense. I challenge you to get your head around why the marketing people made the decision I'm about to describe. Thinking hats on.

As you may know, the film highlights a number of the Smithsonian Institution's actual exhibits, like the Apollo space capsule and the Wright Brothers' plane. One exhibit that failed to make it into the film, however, was the body of 24-foot giant squid displayed in a refrigerated tank.

What did make it into the film, on the other hand, was a giant CGI octopus.

Granted, I can imagine the scenario by which the Smithsonian's squid accidentally became an octopus. Hollywood has mistaken these two mollusks before, so it's par for the course that they do it again. Besides, at no point in the movie do they actually call the octopus "squid," so you could chalk the whole thing up to creative license and leave it at that. But what's much harder to fathom is that all the Japanese promotional material for the movie, and I mean ALL OF IT -- trailers, TV spots, printed leaflets and even a two-hour TV special designed specifically to promote the film's Japanese release -- persistently refers to the animal as a squid.

I'll do a quick Let's Learn Japanese here, just to be thorough:

tako (n.) Octopus.

ika (n.) Squid.

There, see? They're different. For these two to be confused in Japan, a country where both are routinely eaten, a country where the average child learns the difference between tako and ika in kindergarten, a country where the difference between the two is important enough that even visiting foreigners figure out how to tell them apart before they return home...well, that's just far fetched.

Like I said before, the movie itself never makes the mistake of calling this octopus a "squid." So why this concerted (not to mention downright Orwellian) effort to fool the moviegoing public? Is it out of an obligation to link the film to the Smithsonian Institution for advertising purposes? Is it just another example of empty-headed marketing?

Could it possibly be both?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jesse Jace VS The World

Yesterday I bought an Xbox Live Vision Camera. This small USB device provides functionality for a number of Xbox 360 games, but can also easily be used with MacOS or Windows. Unfortunately, a lot of the games that offer camera support kind of suck. For example, nobody has anything good to say about the You're In the Movies series, and my own experiences with Burnout: Paradise -- in which a fresh still of the player who's just bested you appears in a corner of the screen -- have been spotty at best (who wants to be taunted by a fat dude in his BVDs?). EA Sports, however, has done an exceptional job of putting the peripheral to good use.

One of the latest offerings from the aforementioned sports game giant, Fight Night: Round 4, via a feature called GameFace, allows the player to use the camera to put a photo-realistic (if perhaps excessively forgiving) version himself into the game as a prizefighter. User-created boxers can also be easily shared via Xbox Live, used in off- and on-line modes, and captured in the game's replay editor.

To illustrate just how much fun this can be, I made this video. Unfortunately iMovie, the only video editing software I have, is not good at compression, so the picture quality is lacking.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Fun with Bill, Kim and Dick

On Tuesday night, Japanese TV news showed a video still of this week's meeting between Kim Jong Il and Bill Clinton. This same striking still also appeared on the front page of yesterday's Yomiuri Shinbun. I failed to find the still anywhere online, so I decided to scan it and post it here.

Check out the grin on Kim. He looks like a twelve-year-old girl whose birthday party was just paid a surprise visit by David Beckham. (Come to think of it, Bill Clinton sort of looks like David Beckham being forced to visit a twelve-year-old girl's birthday party.)

Unfortunately, another person who resembles a child is Dick Morris, who has blasted Clinton for "boosting" North Korea. Apparently Dick Morris thinks that the foreign policy of the United States should more closely resemble the behavior of a child who thinks there are monsters under his bed. Morris would have us pretend that North Korea doesn't exist before he would have us engage them in diplomacy -- even if the diplomacy is successful, as it was in this case.

Dick Morris wants to plug his ears and cover his eyes while repeating the mantra, "If I can't see them, then they aren't there." He also contends that the freeing of hostages Euna Lee and Laura Ling was timed to distract Americans from the health care debate.

Dick Morris is stunningly dumb.