Review: Fallout 3 [2008, Bethesda Softworks]

Posted on by Gary in Video Games | 1 Comment

Toronto – If you had asked me to envision Elder Scrolls: Oblivion’s brother I would have said it can be no more enticing than a disfigured midget orc painted in a horrible color palette. Seriously, who wants to play as elves that look hideous and the other races and NPC that were scrawny walking, oozing pus-bags? Ugliness does not equal realism. I also had to work with a stamina system that depletes for no apparent reasons. Put that factor in and now the games sounds like: ugly old grannies from the first hut of the game beats the shit out of my more ugly convitct while he/she is sprawled unconciously on the ground and every other exchange is so frustratingly dice-based and the game world so immense for no possible practical rationale that I might as well be playing paper D&D. Enter Fallout 3 which, to be fair, wasn’t Bethesda’s game to mess up. Interplay had already screwed up in Fallout 2 a decade ago. Bethesda injected a dose of their experience on the Elder Scroll games. And out of all the warm, composting fecal matter came something definitively pristine and enjoyable. Wow.

1x1.trans Review: Fallout 3 [2008, Bethesda Softworks]

And that’s probably as far as you should read this review: it is insanely long. The rest will consist of verbal description of this awesome-ness. First off, Fallout 3 is NOT ugly. Here, you will actually wish to see your character’s Asian/African/Hispanic/Caucasian face. So, character creation for me was a rewarding process which took 45 minutes while the game pretends baby Lone Wanderer is being born. The initial tutorial was a good rump through the ropes of the game with the Wanderer as a toddler. But be forewarned – the VATS system is never officially introduced. I’ll get into this later.
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CD Review: Thievery Corporation – Radio Retaliation [2008, ESL Music]

Posted on by Brian in Albums | 2 Comments

1x1.trans CD Review: Thievery Corporation   Radio Retaliation [2008, ESL Music]

Thievery Corporation’s new album is a revolution. A revolution in CD packaging.

Certainly the most political of TC’s albums to date, a catalogue which now includes five studio albums and at least as many DJ mix CD’s, plus other assorted remix collections and EP’s, “Radio Retaliation” is good. But it’s a bit hard to get over the packaging.

The album comes in 5.5 x 5.5 inch heavy cardboard sleeve, open on two sides. Folded inside is a large 28 x 21 inch poster in place of any kind of liner notes, but don’t pull the poster out too hastily or your CD, which is folded loose inside the poster, will fall on the floor. Thievery Corporation has been into different packaging for a while, at least since “Richest Man in Babylon,” which came in a thin boxboard sleeve, packaged with a little booklet of pictures, while the all white CD was in an all white plastic case. I liked that one, but this seems a little over the top. At least “Richest” would fit in with your other CD’s on a shelf. “Radio Retaliation” and it’s cardboard box cover won’t. However, the art directors who designed it are up for a “Best Recording Package” award at the Grammys. No, I didn’t know the Grammys had a “Best Recording Package” award either.

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Theatre Review: Reesor (Next Stage Theatre Festival)

Posted on by Brian in Everything, Theatre | 5 Comments

1x1.trans Theatre Review: Reesor (Next Stage Theatre Festival)

Erin Brandenburg in a Promo Picture for "Reesor"

In my previous Next Stage theatre review, I made a couple of remarks at the opening about mid-Winter theatre festivals being efforts by large summer festival companies to “bridge the gap of their fundraising dry months.” I meant it as a harmless lede to my review, but got taken to task for it a bit by the Fringe Festival in the comments section, and in hindsight it does seem kind of a shallow and poorly thought out thing for me to have written, so I feel compelled to address it.

The Fringe says that Next Stage’s genesis was from a desire to help support Fringe artists outside of the big summer fest, especially new and emerging ones, and to give them a platform to launch new works and take them as far as they can go. They don’t pay the Fringe a participation fee (which is not true of a lot of fests) and get a lot of help in terms of rehearsal space and promotion. After all the support they give, the Fringe doesn’t make nearly enough cash to cover even their own costs.

Truth is, festivals like this are never put on with the express purpose of making money. It was a poor implication. The biggest reason a festival, company, or artist gets involved in something like Next Stage is because they love theatre. That’s the bottom line. I’ve been around theatre enough myself as a patron and occasional volunteer to see it and know it’s true; I just take it as a given and leave it unsaid that everyone involved in a festival like this does it because they love it, but it deserves to be said.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Reesor.

I also said in my previous review that what initially attracted my lovely companion and I to Next Stage was hearing about Reesor, and more particularly the involvement with that production of Andrew Penner of Panic Manual favourites Sunparlour Players. Ricky saw them at Pop Montreal; I was one of about 15 people at the downtown Legion in Calgary who saw their terrific Sled Island music fest performance last Spring, and I also saw them last month at the Dakota Tavern here in Toronto but was too lazy to write about what a great show it was. We were too late arriving to catch Reesor last weekend, but were lucky enough to get tickets to their second last performance of the festival, a 9:15 showing last night (apologies to Beth Marshall for missing L’Ange Avec Les Fleurs again).

And despite the blowing snow that made the trek down Queen Street West to Factory Theatre kind of harrowing, Reesor was definitely worth the extra trip.

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Oasis: Dig Out Your Soul In The Streets [Video]

Posted on by Vik in Everything | 1 Comment

Some cool interpretations of songs from Dig Out Your Soul including blusey acapella, jazz funk and a flautist.

“Liam, Gem and Andy travelled to the City of New York where they taught street musicians to play a number of the new songs. The selected street musicians came from all parts of the city, and had a variety of different ethnic, musical and creative backgrounds.”