Take Diablo's addictive combat, Warcraft's strategy elements, shake vigorously, cover the whole thing in a gorgeous graphics engine, and you have Gas Powered Games' upcoming strategy-RPG Demigod.
Previously I was wary of the game for its wildly derivative nature, but after playing the thing earlier today and experiencing its well-polished, deeply strategic gameplay, I find myself very excited for its February 2009 release.
I refuse to review anything based on pre-beta gameplay, but fans of any game created by Blizzard Entertainment over the last decade should be looking forward to the title.
Though I'd seen LittleBigPlanet before this weekend's Penny Arcade Expo, my first chance to play Sony's world creation game came earlier this morning -- and I think I'm in love.
Most of the game isn't actually much of a game. Players are given the opportunity to create Super Mario Bros.-esque levels from LBP's wide selection of building blocks.
Once created, these levels can be shared with players all over the world, and even sold via an online marketplace reminiscent of the iTunes store.
Last night--downtown, sometime around sunset, at a block party hosted by the Art Institute of Portland--the best nine films we received in the "My Pretty Portland" film contest were screened. We got over 30 entries, and for myself and a crack team of intrepid Mercury writers, it was no easy task to decide the winners, but I think we did an alright job of it. It should probably be noted here that we gave extra credit to films that featured unicorns.
My memory of last night is the tiniest bit blurry thanks to my possible abuse of the drink ticket system, but I remember enough of the evening to know it went pretty well, and the crowd seemed to dig most of the entries. For those of you who couldn't make it out last night--and those who were there and want to re-watch particular films--here are the nine finalists we selected. The first place winner is immediately below, with second place and seven others (plus an honorable mention!) after the jump.
My Pretty Portland by Quarter Orange
As if he weren't too busy being a comedian on Blue Oregon, Portland's funniest city commissioner Randy Leonard has more serious things to attend to: Trying to duck a subpoena to appear in court to testify about his controversial secret list of downtown offenders, arguing through the city attorney's office that he is "not the custodian" of records relating to the program.
LEONARD: Didn't do it. Nobody saw him do it. You can't prove anything...
Leonard, who until now has been remarkably outspoken about the merits of his secret list, fell silent on August 21 following the Mercury's public records requests to his office, and to the police bureau and city attorney's offices, asking for records, emails, and communications relating to the list. The city attorney's office is yet to respond to our request for info, and the police bureau has only responded by asking clarifying questions. Meanwhile, the District Attorney's office responded only to say that a policy relating to the secret list exists, but when asked to provide the policy, Deputy District Attorney David Hannon also went quiet.
All this after the coordinator of the program at the police bureau admitted to the Mercury in May that the policy wasn't written down anywhere, promising to do so by July 1.
Leonard's chief of staff, Ty Kovatch, told the Mercury that Leonard didn't have any emails about the list, even though Leonard has been quoted extensively here and elsewhere saying how fantastic the program is. Now, Deputy City Attorney Ellen Osinach is arguing similarly. In a letter to the attorney issuing the subpoena, obtained by the Mercury this morning, Osinach writes:
Thank you for the updated subpoena with the added duces tecum. Commissioner Leonard is not the custodian of any NLCEP records, so the duces tecum portion of the subpoena isn't effective to produce those documents from him. The City doesn't want to obstruct your effort to get the documents you need, so if I can figure out exactly what you're looking for, I can help you get to the proper custodian.
Arguing that Leonard isn't the "custodian" of records relating to his secret list is an interesting distinction. I, for example, am certainly not the "custodian" of a lot of files and papers that cross the Mercury news room's desk, but should I get to dodge a subpoena despite having a huge amount of information available to me about what those documents might contain?
Fresh from from having their jobs saved from the vicious gentrifying Brooks Brothers and Portland Business Alliance, Peterson's convenience store employees have launched their own blog.
So far, there's a super-surreal video introduction to the 4th avenue store—two minutes with a jazz soundtrack, and some descriptions of a soda. But there'll be customer and employee interviews up soon, and I think this has the potential to be one of Portland's more interesting online communities.
Feel free to post your content suggestions.
One of the key reasons why I opted to attend the Penny Arcade Expo this year was the exhibition of a documentary I've been following professionally for quite a while: Second Skin.
The documentary, created by two brothers and a friend who also happen to be long-time gamers, takes an in-depth look at the relationships that form when people spend literally months of their lives in online games.
Hey! It's Marky Mark! And he's playing ultra-violent videogame star Max Payne! And there's that hot chick from That '70s Show! And... and... screamy emo music. And... dragons? But hey! Lots of slow motion bullets and sweeeeeet, sweeeeet violence. (Oh, how I do love violence... when it's not happening to me.)
In a benefit for the Oregon Humane Society, the lovely ladies from Devils Point will be washing your car and/or dog this Saturday at 5305 SE Foster Road. What will they be wearing? Bikinis, of course.
Aside from the dog/car wash, Devil's Point is hosting a series of events. Come for the car wash, stay for the.. um... entertainment.
DAY TIME EVENTS SCHEDULE:
Bikini Car Wash: 2pm-7pm
Dog Wash: 2pm-7pm
Car Cruise-In: 2pm-7pm
Island Style Bento BBQ: 2pm-7pm
NIGHT TIME EVENTS SCHEDULE:
Exotic Dancers: 9pm-Close
Fire Dancers: 9pm-Close
Live Music by BAND OF DIOS
(featuring members of Western Aerial and Tri-Polar) - 10pm-11pm
C'mon. It's for a good cause. Are you going to tell this poor puppy you don't like exotic dancers enough to help him? Hmmm? Of course not.
Don't be sad. We had a good run. All summer romances must end. Besides, every time I smell a mojito, I will think of you and the blog love we created together. So, wipe that tear from your eye. We still have one more weekend.
This being the last hurrah of summer, I've decided to gather the best of the Summer Boozy Goodness drink recipes.
These should keep you going for awhile. And look for Autumn Boozy Goodness arriving on Blogtown soon.
Should Tina Fey return to Saturday Night Live to play Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin? (Omigod, these guys are going to have a field day with her!)
Shannen Doherty refuses to admit she once punched Jenny Garth in the face. Quit being such a bitch, Shannen!!
On Sunday, tune to AMC at 5 pm for a Mad Men Marathon: five episodes of the already awesome season two! (You can also catch up with all the Project Runway episodes you've missed starting Monday at 3 pm, on Bravo!)
Since I won't be around to remind you, season two of Gossip Girl debuts on the CW, Monday, 8 pm! I will try this show ONE MORE TIME to find out if I still don't give a crap.
"Source Confirms: Jennifer Aniston to Guest on 30 Rock!" Omigod, OMIGOD.... I DON'T CARE!!
And while the rest of you were watching Barack Obama giving a life-altering speech, Stephen Colbert was doing whippits... live on air.
This week's cover image was provided by resident Portland photographer John Ryan Brubaker. I ran across John's photography as I was floating through the Mercury's Flickr Pool. The cover image is part of John's diligent, and inspiring Polaroid 366 project, in which he is out to take one Polaroid a day for a year. Just the daunting task of keeping motivated to shoot a photo every day of the week is a big undertaking, but combined with the recent news that Polaroid has made the decision to stop making Polaroid film this year, the project seems to inherit an instamatic form of nostalgia.
See more of John's work at pixelgrain.org.
The often-scathing blog Portland Public Schools Equity has a great post today about the lack of public discussion among school board members over last night's appointment of their newest member, the Oregonian-endorsed Martin Gonzalez.
The vote wasn't a surprise - Gonzalez was the only candidate with a lot of experience who agreed with the school board's controversial policies (like the district's transfer policy). But check out PPS Equity's take on the appointment meeting:
When approving the process for appointing a new member, the vote was 5-1. Sonja Henning voted "no," but during board discussion of the issue, she deferred. "I don't need to say it here," she said.
After the meeting adjourned and the cameras and microphones were turned off, two of her board colleagues joined her for a discussion that greatly exceeded the length of the official board meeting.
Doesn't the public have a right to know why she voted?? Isn't public deliberation a fundamental piece of the democratic process?
The Board wound up unanimously voting to approve Gonzalez - but the lack of any discussion in public does make you wonder what sorts of concerns and ideas are being vetted in the back room rather than in front of the mics.
I've left messages for Sonja to ask why she decided to keep her dissenting thoughts off the record. But it's the Friday before a three day weekend, so who knows when we'll hear back. If ever.
God Bless Voodoo Doughnuts. They come up with a new flavor, and send us some samples. We blog about it. This is known as the virtuous circle. Your guesses as to what the new flavor is, are welcome.
NEW DOUGHNUT: GREEN...AND YELLOW...
STEVE: "Is it something to do with drugs?"
NED: "I don't want my face on the blog..."
There is virtually nothing going on theater-wise right now. Some comedy shows, a touring production of The Phatom of the Opera... see our theater listings for a complete roundup of your paltry options. (Pylon is your best bet.)
Here's a question. The theater scene is so desperately dead in the summer that I will essentially cover anything. Anything! Shakespeare in the park? Musical theater in Tigard? Sketch comedy in your mom's basement? All the major companies hit the snooze button in the summer, but I still have an arts section to fill--as does every other paper in town. Instead of going up against Third Rail, PCS, Vertigo, and Artist's Rep in the fall, why don't smaller companies take advantage of the lull and produce work in the off season? It would almost guarantee more press attention than they're likely to get otherwise.
And then, of course, the city lurches to life in the full-on clusterfuck that is next weekend. Hey, Artist's Rep? Though I'd very much like to, I can't go to the opening night of Blackbird, because I'm seeing Reggie Watts and Antony and the Johnsons at TBA that night. Ditto MusicFest NW. It's great to have options, but it's really frustrating that two of the biggest annual festivals our city has to offer overlap. (Why not just throw Wordstock in there too, while we're at it?)
It's particularly frustrating because most people I know are going to default to seeing the same stale bands at MusicFest rather than taking a chance on what TBA has to offer. For example: I had trouble convincing a friend that he should see Reggie Watts at TBA instead of Built to Spill at MusicFest, even though he admitted that he's seen Built to Spill approximately 47 times, as has just about everyone who's lived here for any length of time. A brand new show from a frighteningly talented, hyper-intelligent, Andy Kaufman Comedy Award-winning performance artist, or a chance to hear a band that peaked 11 years ago perform an album you've got memorized anyway? I like Perfect from Now On too, but not as much as I like challenging, thought-provoking performances I can actually connect with.
I hate to impose this kind of arbitrary MusicFest/TBA dichotomy: It shouldn't have to be an either/or, but unfortunately, due to scheduling, it is. And that sucks.
The Obama campaign sent out a slate of comments from Oregon politicos, on John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. Multhomah County Commissioner Jeff Cogen got in the best zinger:
"We wouldn't put a two year county commissioner of Multnomah County a single heartbeat away from the presidency, especially when you consider that John McCain is twenty three years older than the State of Alaska."
Disaster Movie, the latest from the crack team of cinematic parodists responsible for Epic Movie, Date Movie, and Scary Movie (where do they come up with these amazing titles?!) opens today, but in a shocking development it was not screened in time for us to put the review in the paper.
This means one of two things:
1. The movie's a big, honking turd.
2. The film is an indisputable masterpiece and, as such, any critical reaction to it is irrelevant.
Which could it be? Our intrepid Kiala Kazebee skipped Obama's speech at the DNC last night to watch Disaster Movie, so you can find out the answer in our web-exclusive review.
Happy birthday, Michael Jackson! You've hit the big 5-0... and you don't look a day over 12!
Despite all the rumors about his bizarre personal life, the man is the undisputed King of Pop... and for very good reason. Let's take a look at the musical genius at work in perhaps his finest hour:
Oh god. No, that didn't work. Now I just feel dirty. Is there some way to cleanse the pain?
Okay. I feel slightly better.
I'll admit it! I got misty-eyed last night during Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the DNC when he said...
So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.
So, by the end of the speech, I was ready to follow him to the ends of the earth... that is until they played THIS as his exit music! (Please, just watch the first minute or so.)
Why in the hell would you end one of the greatest speeches since Martin Luther King Jr. with hillbilly music? After a beautiful, rousing and noncynical oratory like the one he just gave, it's unbelievable to me that the Committee would choose such a pandering country-fried song like Brooks and Dunn's "Only in America". And even worse? It's apparently THE SAME SONG Bush used for his campaign theme song in 2004!
Seriously, it was like making love to a beautiful woman, and then watching her take her dentures out.
Was anyone else as freaked out about this as I was?
Excalibur Comics (2444 SE Hawthorne) is once again having their big 50 percent off sale. The sale starts today and runs through Monday, September 1.
I've hit more than my fair share of these since I moved to Portland six years ago, and I have yet to be disappointed with what I've ended up tracking down. This is an excellent opportunity to go and pick up a ton of back issues on the cheap. Do not waste it.
John McCain has chosen a running mate: Sarah Palin, a conservative Christian pro-life mother-of-five "hockey mom" who's also the governor of Alaska. But that last part doesn't matter, because I'm listening to her speak right now, and her political inexperience shows. She's a terrible speaker, and Joe Biden will easily destroy her in the VP debate.
But hey! She's got an 18-year-old about to head to Iraq, and an infant with down syndrome. The country's inane Christian soccer and hockey moms will LOVE her.
She says the "right reasons" for running for office are "to challenge the status quo and work for the common good." She delivered that trite line in a broken staccato.
It's going to be a long two months until November 4.
Food editor Pat Coleman and I are in the office listening to Michael Palin accepting the vice presidential nomination for John McCain.
PALIN: Complete and Utter Spastic...
Coleman spent his last two years of high school in Alaska, where apparently the pregnancy rate is through the ceiling, so he is qualified to have an opinion here. We have concluded that Palin's nomination simply must be a joke, but here are our thoughts, as they occur to us. Feel free to add yours...
1.She has no executive experience.
2.Although she is very fertile.
3.She can't speak.
4.She sounds stupid.
5."A ship in harbor is safe. But that's not why the ship is built."
7.She's quoting senators from Ohio...
8.She sounds like she would rip your face off if you asked when her life started.
9.Joe Biden will "take this chick to the mat," says Coleman.
10.The crowd is cheering "USA...USA..."
PALIN: Miss Wasilla, 1984...
11.It just seems so desperate....
13.She's praising Hillary Clinton now. Oh my gosh.
14.The Republicans are expecting women to vote for them based on gender issues?!
15.The internets reveal she is considered Alaska's "GILF." The G is for "governor."
16.I am feeling guilty about this post. Especially the sexist bits, and that comment about Michael Palin being "spastic." Who knew. I'm sorry.
17.I'm over it now.
18.Now really: Why?
Did I mention that I'm moving? Well, I am, and it's pretty much all I can concentrate on. One of the stress-items is the fact that I have two cats. One of them is really mellow, but my male cat Bruce is really emotional and fussy, and I'm worried about him dealing with the transition, mainly because he deals with most of the problems in his life by peeing on things. I know we're supposed to keep them in the bathroom of the new place during the moving, for a day or so, but the actual moving date isn't until Monday and he's already pretty sketched out by all the missing furniture and boxes. Any tips would be welcome. So far I've just been giving him lots of love and attention and getting him stoned on catnip every night.
Also, I am pretty sure I have found paradise:
Sure, they have PSAs about everything from fire safety to steroid abuse -- but where's the PSA for one of the nation's most annoying annoyances, the "Dick Move"? It's RIGHT HERE. (By the way, choosing a woefully unqualified woman for a Vice President in order to scoop up the Hillary vote? That's a dick move.)
Tips to Videogum!
It's the morning after Obama's big speech, but the big headline is:
Obama gave a down-to-earth speech that 50 billion news agencies describe as "adding policy to soaring rhetoric" despite the stadium setting. No bands, no airplanes, but maybe a new slogan: Enough! Is that because the "change message" has "run out of steam"?
Predicting the Future: Don't worry, says Oregon economist, the recession is totally sort of almost over.
And in wonk news, the PDC has a new chair who says he's into transparency and not being "done" with downtown.
This week the Mercury's Flickr Pool grew to 104 members and we had two pages filled with new photos! Still no candid photos of Danny Glover!? I'm beginning to think that he and the elusive Sasquatch are roommates.
This week in the pool we saw...
1) A potential candidate for an upcoming Mercury cover.
2) Stranger Danger!
3) An impromptu Pizzazz! audition rehearsal.
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