Brewster Jennings Protects America: The global spy hunt game

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Do you remember Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? I first played the game in Germany when my family was living there. I remember crazy names like Carry Meback and other characters. It was a fun game. I always suspected that Carmen was pretty hot, but I never knew for sure because of that damn red trenchcoat and hat!

Now using the lovely Google Maps you can play Brewster Jennings Protects America: The global spy hunt game. I’ve tried it and it has good potential. My visual geography isn’t as good as it should be so it’s been fun to play. Give it a try!

Excellent Typography: A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Despite my comments on The Penultimate Peril I do want to take a moment to praise the series in terms of typography.

The entire series stands out in my mind as one of the best series of books printed today. I’m not talking about the story, I’m talking about the binding, the end papers, the text-block and typography. It’s really something extraordinary.

First, the books are most widely available in a hardback binding, something rare in this day and age of pulp fiction and crappy bindings. Paperback bindings always seem so temporary to me, flimsy and transient. Hardback books have a feeling of permanence. Leather hardback even more so. I think it’s good that children hold a good book in their hands like that.

There are also no dust jackets on the books, something I applaud. Dust jackets are like slutty loose clothing draped on the book to try and “spice it up.” I always take the dust jackets off when I read a book. Typically the publisher has a nice 4 or 6-color dust jacket and the true cover is as bland as poop. I’m sure this is a way to save money but it sucks. One notable exception to this are the books by Cornelia Funke, such as Inkheart, where the hard-back cover is every bit as beautiful as the dust jacket (although it would have been more appropriate to bind Inkheart in a plain green linen cover).

The endpapers are custom for each book. Not only do they at least sport a design (also a rarity) but the bookplate (even more rare) is individualized for each book showing the disguise Count Olaf is wearing in the book as well as the Baudelaire children’s setting. Very nice.

Last but not least, the typography in the book is what typography should be–a vehicle to better tell the story. For example, in the Ersatz Elevator I remember a page being totally black. In the Penultimate Peril there are several sentences where the type is upside down and backwards–a mirror image. I would read the whole series of books just to see the typography.

If you haven’t read them, you really out to just to see a good example of excellent typography.

The Penultimate Peril: Book the Twelfth

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Known as the last book before the last book in the Series of Unfortunate Events series this is Book the Twelfth.

This book is better than most of the others, but not as good as some. This might sound strange but keep in mind there are 12 books in the series now. Although true to the style of the other books it did seem to me that it functions more as an introduction to the last book than a book that can stand on its own. But I’m sure that if you have read the other 11 books this one will also be to your liking.

I’ve met a lot of people who just don’t understand the literary style of these books and they typically stop reading about 50 pages into the first book and declare it depressing and awful. Depressing here meaning “would rather be watching mindless tripe on the WB than reading a well-written book.”

Verdict: OK

Doom – The Movie

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Last Friday Shawn and I went and saw the movie Doom. This movie was based on the id Software game of great fame. Before I tell you about the movie I’ll reminisce for a moment.

One thing I remember about the the first version of the game was the it had no plot or back-story. Sure, they made something up–probably because their marketing department said to the developers “Hey, this thing has to have some kind of story.” to which the developers replied “So make something up! Can’t you see I’m busy fragging!” I remember it was pretty ballsy at the time as every other computer game had lavish back-stories. Kudos to id Software for having the guts to say “people don’t care about a back-story, they just want to kill stuff.”

Now on to the review! In a word the movie was bad, but I think it bears a few more words than that. The Rock can’t act. Every other actor in the movie was at least decent and some, like Reaper, was actually good. The plot was OK up to the point where it became a first person shooter. Seriously, it would have been better if they had left that part and the rest of the movie out. Did I mention The Rock can’t act? Oh yeah, I did.

I will have to say it was fun to watch, even though it turned stale at the end. And above all, it was very suspenseful–they managed to recreate the terror of the game in the movie.

So that’s it. Go see if it you dare.

The Tank Camera

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Have you ever had to crawl around in tight areas to pull cable or inspect stuff? I have, and it is not fun. In fact, last time I needed to pull cable under my master bedroom I bribed my little brother to do it. When he was done he told me not to ask him ever again as he would never do it.

I once thought about using my Lego Mindstorms set with a wireless X.10 camera to navigate and pull cable, but insted I sent it down the cold air return system in the house looking for hidden treasures–the crawl space under the bedroom was too dirty.

But this guy managed to create a remoted controlled tank with a camera to do just that. Even though I did it first, I don’t have a cool writeup with photos. So enjoy!