Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Glorious Wastings Of My Time Part I

Hello, Tireless Readers!

Whenever I'd walk into a bookstore/magazine stand/library as a kid I'd instantly be dumbstruck by all the potential knowledge just waiting to be discovered.  I knew that if I was thorough or lucky enough, I'd unearth something which would stoke the fire of my already-keen interests or ignite a whole new spark in the tinderbox of my imagination.

Now I want to be crystal clear here: the knowledge I speak of certainly didn't put me at any risk of becoming a piano prodigy, an Alex P. Keaton-esque financial savant or a teenager who could strip and re-assemble the engine of a Ford Focus while blindfolded.  No, instead it taught me spectacularly impractical things such as the name of the actor inside the Godzilla suit (Haruo Nakajima for the record), the difference between a Githyanki and a Githzerai and why David Bowie's Tonight L.P. perhaps wasn't the magnum opus that I thought it was.

And then along came the internet, which just allowed me to reconfirm all the things I've listed above within minutes (and without lifting my lazy ass off this chair to boot).  Indeed, as a writer, the internet can be a tremendous ally.  I remember rummaging through stacks of musty old tomes in the Dalhousie library researching late-medieval Italian armor while writing my first book.  Now I can just Google that mofo and be inundated with hundreds of pics and descriptions.  Hell, I can probably even order some late-medieval Italian armor if I looked hard enough.

As a person of certain, shall we say, tenure, who didn't have the internet as a kid, I still consider it to be a modern-day marvel.  I couldn't imagine going back in time with a laptop and somehow-functioning DSL connection to show L'il Dave that one day we'd all have the equivalent of a bookstore/magazine stand/library sitting right on our laps.  A sometimes inaccurate, divisive, opinionated and sleazy bookstore/magazine stand/library, but one nonetheless.

My head would have exploded.  And I probably would have been in danger of seriously chafing something.  

Conversely, as you might expect, the internet is also a writer's greatest foe.  It's like having a little cartoon devil on your shoulder 24-7, constantly tempting you to have a quick peek at her wares: 

"Hey, *Psssst!*  Fanboy!  I got six 30-minute streaming video segments of these dudes playing through the classic AD&D module 'Against the Giants' right here on Vimeo.  Wanna watch?"

No.  Not really.  But I probably will anyway, just because it's easier then working.

They say that half the battle is to "know thine enemy".  Perhaps if I wrangle, brand and corral these siren suspects I'll gain some authority over them, mayhaps even some control.  But be warned: as you saunter through this entertaining zoo, please don't feed or look directly at the animals.  It may result in similar bouts of time-wastage and gratuitous procrastination...

So, with that waiver firmly set in place, I present to you:  FIVE Hideously Distracting Websites:

(1)  Board Game Geek   If you've got an addiction to board games like I do, well then, welcome to the crack house.  This incredible place is the ultimate online resource/social community for die-chuckers, cube-pushers and card-floppers.  Since its inception twelve years ago, the 'Geek has hunted, tracked and tagged information on 45,000 different boardgames.  With just a few clicks, you can get a glimpse of what's inside those mysterious boxes, read game reviews, get free player aides and even watch instructional videos which teach you how to play the friggin' things!   

Thanks to this site, never again will you need to drop 50 clams on board game like this and then blindly pray that it's good after you crack the cellophane.

P.S.  It isn't.  

(2)  Ain't It Cool News  While recovering from a debilitating injury back in the mid-90's, film geek/human gastropod Harry Knowles (*snicker*) began trolling for genre movie gossip via the embryonic interwebs.  In 1996 he launched his very own webzone, which swiftly become the de facto dumping ground for anonymous nerd rage and unsolicited, barely valid opinions from socially maladjusted virgins. 

Truth be told, Knowles himself is a pretty bad writer.  Occasionally one of his movie reviews might distinguish itself simply because the film made him apoplectic with rage (such as his vitriolic take on the Night of the Living Dead: 30'th Anniversary Edition).  More often then not, his articles feature painfully personal and/or completely embarrassing admissions, sponsorship bias, or unforgivably bad judgement, all of which tends to provoke his horde of trollish readers into piranha-like flame frenzies.

A part of me keeps coming back just to witness Harry's latest foot-in-mouth gaff (and the bear-baiting which resulted), but I mainly still pitch at AICN just to see what's going on with movies I'll eventually see and adore.  Regardless of how many people question the site's current relevance, today I found out that Joss Whedon's working on a supernatural romance movie, I peeped a cool still from the new Ridley Scott Alien movie Prometheus and learned that my beloved BBC series Sherlock will get a third season.       

I just wish he'd stop posting those disturbing GIF animations in the upper left hand corner.

(3) You Tube This site proves that if you have a working laptop and reasonably lively internet connection then you have no excuse to be bored.

Yes, this is on everyone's list of lethal time-suckers, but the amazing thing about youtube is that there's just so much content.  Ergo, my youtube and your youtube are totally different animals. 

The only real challenge with this site is thinking up kooky things to look for, but once you do, it's like a snowball rolling downhill.  And that hill is Mt. Kilimanjaro. 

Here are a few ransom samples, crammed into something resembling categories.  Word to the wise: pretty much every video I've featured in this post is decidedly Not Suitable For Work.  You have been warned.

Pee-Yerrself-Funny Stand Up


Krazee Karakterz:

Teh Weirdz 

Retro Junk

Honestly, I never know when I'm gonna stumble upon some new, hypnotic treasure or click on a link which Admiral Ackback would describe thusly:

The next thing I know, *POW!*, I'm mesmermized.

Case in point: last night I innocently clicked on a Bookfaced link and subsequently burned close to three hours enraptured by this next vid.  Hey, at least I didn't waste my time watching The Bachelor.

P.S. I highly suggest that you watch the following mind-altering vid.  Assuming, of course, that you're not going through a spate of post-Christmas depression, in which case I suggest you just stick to stuff like this.

(4) Cinemassacre  About around 2008 I first discovered the enraged genius of James Rolfe, a.k.a The Angry Video Game Nerd.  It came courtesy of the following masterpiece:

Every since I laughed myself into a hernia watching James dissect the laughably inept Power Glove, I've greedily devoured every single video he's ever made.  I love this dude since he's essentially me, but born ten years later.  Whereas the only technology I had to make movies as a kid was an expensive and impractical  Super 8 camera, James had access to a cheap-shooting and easy-to-use VHS camcorder.

He set to work at a formative age, creating one ambitious mini-movie after another.  He struck internet gold after reviewing the woefully inept and infuriatingly difficult NES games of his child, such as Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  In doing so, James morphed into the pocket-protector-wearin', Rolling Rock drinkin', creatively profane Angry Video Game Nerd (nee Nintendo Nerd).

But my boy isn't just limited to just one shtick.  In addition to posting over one hundred nerd reviews, James has also done a bunch of short films, board game vids, movie reviews and general rants.  His legion of fans (including this cowboy) dutifully count down the days every year until his annual, video-a-day Monster Madness series kicks off in October.      

But it's his Angry Video Game Nerd character that's really put him in the forefront of alternative pop culture.  Right now, James is traveling to Los Angeles to film the AVGN feature film, and I wish this plucky little jobber all the best.

Even if it's just half as funny as his encounter below with Bugs Bunny, it'll be a smash hit:

(5)  Red Letter Media  Like everyone else, I first became aware of Red Letter Media when I first watched their thoroughly exhaustive (and therapeutic) dissection of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.  

Little did I know, indie film-makers Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman had already been toiling away for years, first crafting a series of bizarre and acerbic short films and then savaging the Next Gen Star Trek movies.  To distance his reviews from typical geek bitching, Stoklasa cleverly adopted the persona of Harry S. Plinkett, a one-hundred-and-six-year-old, wheelchair bound, pizza-roll swilling psychotic.  Unable to resist an opportunity to flex their cinematic muscles, Stoklasa and Bauman often incorporate tangential sub-plots in their reviews, often centering around Plinkett's bizarre proclivities and the colorful characters that come into  his twisted sphere of influence.

More recently the enterprising duo knocked out Feeding Frenzy a low-fi, feature-length ode to 80's horror movies, kicked off a more traditional (but no less subversive) review series called "Half in the Bag" and unleashed Plinkett on the latest Indiana Jones flick.    

Although these guys clearly aren't working with a ton of money, they have brains, heart and snarkiness in spades.  And frankly...that's half the battle in my books.

Well, that's it for now, Kind Browser.  Hopefully this'll keep ya busy for a bit.  I'll be back soon with five more proficient time-suckers real soon.

Unless, well, you know...

EPIC  Told ya...http://www.a2armory.com/16cenitkniga.html

FAIL  I'm afraid to take this.  Are you?

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