Tag Archives: video games

Google celebrates Pac-Man’s 30th

Wow, today was really a big day for 30th anniversaries…who knew that video game legend Pac-Man was celebrating a monumental birthday today as well? Google knew, that’s who!

And in honor of the big yellow dude’s 30th birthday, the crazy-cool folks at the Googleplex are featuring a fully playable Pac-Man game where their logo should be on their home page. Wocka wocka yeah!

Better yet, if you double click the “insert coin” button on said home page, you can play a two player version of the game with Mrs. Pac-Man, who, as everyone knows, was always way cooler than her husband. I mean, hello, she had a bow on her head and shit. How cool is that?

And even though I can’t figure out how to insert a fully playable version of Pac-Man into my blog, I can share with you one of the best songs ever written about a video game. I’m talking, of course, about Buckner and Garcia’s cheese-tastic “Pac Man Fever”!

My brother and I practically burned a hole in our 12-inch single of this song back in the day and now you can too. Click here to celebrate thirty years of the sweet yellow fever. Happy 30th, Pac-Man!

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Happy 25th Birthday Tetris!

Saturday marked the 25th birthday of one of our all-time-favorite video gamesTetris! Yep, that crazy-addictive block-stacking insanity has been making our fingers hurt for twenty five years now. Crazy, huh?

Tetris #1

I remember first seeing Tetris on my stepmom Wendy’s Gameboy in the late-80’s and thinking: “Wow, what is one boring-ass game…this thing will never catch on!” Hmmm…I guess that shows what I know about gaming.

And even though Christine and our friend James went crazy for Tetris when we first moved to L.A. in the early-90’s, I must admit that my fondness for the game peaked much more recently. Looking to fill up our then-new iPod, Elvis with some cool games and stuff when we first bought it, I downloaded two games: The Sims Bowling, which totally sucks, and, you guessed it…Tetris.

And guess which game I play almost nightly before going to bed? T-E-T-R-I-S! It’s crazy, I know, but there is something so freaking comforting about strategically stacking those stupid blocks over and over again every night. And I can’t even begin to tell you how many times that game has saved my life on punishing airport layovers or insanely-long days on movie sets. Yikes…

Tetris #2

Tetris #3

So, happy 25th birthday Tetris and many thanks to the mad Russian techie, Alexey Pojitnov, who made all of this possible way back in 1984. History may find more deserving Russians to celebrate, but you’re the king of Kremlin Kool our house, dude!

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“Star Wars: The Force Unleashed”

Breaking my long-standing rule about getting up early, I was second in line at Target on Tuesday morning to purchase the rocking new video game from LucasArts, “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed”.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “Yikes..he’s blogging about “Star Wars” video games now? This dude gets nerdier by the minute…” And yes, I totally do. But that’s beside the point.

I’ve been looking forward to this game since my brother and I first saw, and were blown away by, some of the concept art at the Stars Wars Celebration IV last year. Yes, we went to that too and it rocked! The thing that we loved most about the concept of this game is that it acts as a bridge between the plotlines of the actual movies. Cool, huh?

Set during the time period between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope”, the game’s central playable character is Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice who is recruited to the dark side to hunt down and kill any and all remaining Jedi Knights in the galaxy. Wow! It’s like Lucas and company have finally come up with a game that is just as dark and twisted as the movie’s coolest character, Lord Vader himself. Awesome!

And though I was, as I said above, second in line to purchase the game on Tuesday, I am probably the last in line to figure out how to play the damn thing. For though it looks and plays as cool, if not cooler than, some of the movies, this game is f-ing hard, man!

Chapter One begins with you playing Darth Vader — which, if you ask me, is not a bad way to start — and has you charging around Chewbacca’s crazy-cool homeworld of Kashyyyk in search of a rogue Jedi Knight. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, not really.

See, killing the wookies is easy and the force unleashed powers are pretty spectacularly rendered, but once you meet up with that crafty rogue Jedi — who I’m assuming is also the Secret Apprentice you will play as for the rest of the game — things get real hard real fast!

I should say here that I am not a pro gamer by anyone’s standard, and since Christine was off baking cookies while I played, it was just me and my Wii remote flailing and cussing up a storm in the living room. I was getting better by the end, but man, getting that damn Jedi to surrender to the dark side was way harder than it looks on the box, amigos.

So, for now, I’m gonna bone up a bit on the game — who knows, I might actually read the instructions this time! — and try playing again this weekend with a group. Between the four of us eggheads — Ryan, Laura, Christine and myself — we should be able to at least advance to the next level…I hope.

In the meantime, check out the rocking trailer for the game here and if you pick up a copy of “The Force Unleashed” for yourself, please call me and tell me how to play the damn thing! Seriously, I’m dying here…

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“American Mall” song on Rock Band!

Heard the other day — from my non-gaming friend Ginger, of all people! — that the video game Rock Band is releasing some new downloadable songs to the Xbox 360 this week. And while the bands involved are both very cool — Duran Duran and Devo! — the biggest news in this household is that the other downloadable song is going to be “Get Your Rock On” from “The American Mall” soundtrack! Cool, huh?

Of course, I don’t own Rock Band (yet!) and we have a Wii, not an Xbox, so even if we did have Rock Band, we’d still have to wait a while to play the song. But how totally cool that MTV is releasing the song on Rock Band at all…yay!

I’m assuming Ginger heard about this latest development through one of her many visits to Duran Duran fansites and not from a sudden interest in hard-core gaming, but either way, thanks for the heads up, amiga! You rock!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go buy an Xbox and sneak it into the house before Christine gets home from work…

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“The American Mall” premiere party @ The Cabana Club!

Located just around the corner from the Cinerama Dome, the Cabana Club on Ivar has a really cool “old Hollywood” vibe that I kinda love. There’s a little swimming pool-like water running through the place, bridges to the bar, and crazy cool cabanas everywhere you look. I swear to God, this joint is so retro, you half expect to see Louis B. Mayer boozing it up Errol Flynn in the corner.

"The American Mall" neon sign over the bar

"American Mall" after party @ the Cabana Club

Christine and I had been here once before, for the WGA’s post-strike “Contract Celebration Party” in March, but obviously, this party was a lot more fun. And unlike the WGA bash where the bar was only halfway “open”, on Monday night, the free drinks were flowing freely, amigos!

And though most of the food was delicious, I’d have to say the highlights were the “American Mall” cookies and the Ben & Jerry’s booth — there is a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cart prominently featured in the movie — that came stocked with five yummy flavors of ice cream.

There was also a hugely popular Sears Arrive Lounge photo booth near the dance floor (we took two sets of pics) and an area where people could spread out and play MTV’s hit video game “Rock Band” — which is also featured kinda prominently in my movie. I know, I know…product placement much? But, hello, this movie is set in a mall…so, what better place to, um, place some products?

Ooo, speaking of branding. I know they probably do this at all the Hollywood premieres, but another thing I totally loved was the fact that they slapped “The American Mall” logo on EVERYTHING. Napkins, the food trays, cookies, a super cool neon sign over the bar, hell, even the wait staff and bartenders wore “American Mall” t-shirts. It was awesome!

But the highlight of the evening was really just chilling with the cast and crew from the movie. I had met all of the core cast members when I visited the set in Utah back in February, but Christine was meeting them all for the first time and had a blast. Everyone — and I mean everyone — both in front of and behind the camera was crazy nice! Seriously, it was like old home week…

I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the more famous guests at the party — Jai Rodriguez from “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” told me he loved the movie as did the super cool African-American chick from “High School Musical”, Monique Coleman — but, mark my words, the rest of the “Mall” cast is gonna be huge. And they deserve it, because, in my totally unbiased opinion, they really rocked that mall hard, baby.

So with Christine’s feet ready to fall off — those heels were high, yo! — we stumbled back to our car just before midnight and hurried home to open our gift bags! Sadly, no “Rock Band”, but we did get some cool guitar string bracelets like the one the Ally character wears in the movie, “American Mall” t-shirts, stickers, a CD of the soundtrack and loads of Clean and Clear products…so, hey, not a bad way to end the night.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to rinse off my new deep-cleansing acne mask and go to bed. Que viva la Mall!

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Abby’s Legendary Pizza, Grants Pass

Every time we head north to Christine’s hometown of Grants Pass, Oregon, there are two places we have to eat at. One is Millie’s Sandwich Shop on NE 7th Street and the other is Abby’s Legendary Pizza on Williams Highway. And since I somehow managed to not take pictures at Millie’s this year, I’ll tell you about Abby’s instead!

Not only is the food fresh, cheap and delicious, but the Abby’s we frequent even has an “old school” video game area in the back that used to house a super cool “Phantom Menace” pinball machine!

Sadly, the “Star Wars” pinball machine has moved on, but the memory of that strange pinball/video game hybrid and the rocking good pizza we enjoyed while playing it, lives on…seriously, I think about that game a lot!

Initially known as Abby’s Pizza Inn, the first Abby’s was founded in 1964 by former high-school classmates Albert Broughton and James Harrell — better known to their friends as Abby and Skinny — in nearby Roseburg, Oregon. Once word got out that these guys knew how to make some damn fine pizza, the legend of Abby’s grew to the 34 store chain that exists today.

And though you have to drive to Oregon or Washington to sample Abby’s, let me tell ya, it’s worth the trek. Though everything on the menu is fantastic, we always order the same thing, which I guess you could call the “founder’s special” since they are named for Abby and Skinny themselves.

My favorite is the Abby’s Special, which is your basic “works” pizza with black olives, fresh mushrooms, ground beef, pepperoni, salami and sausage. And Christine and the ladies generally favor the Skinny Special with Canadian Bacon and fresh tomatoes. I honestly cannot think of a more perfect pizza combination on your plate than these two pizza pies…this stuff is amazing.

But the real star of the show at Abby’s are the spuds. Nothing really more than silver-dollar-sized potato slices, the spuds are scattered on a pizza pan and served fresh out of the fryer with sides of ranch dressing. I know it sounds weird to eat even more starch with pizza, but man alive, these spuds make the meal!

Of course, we usually leave feeling a tad over-stuffed and in desperate need of some exercise, but hey…that’s what the video game area is for, right? Rock on, Abby’s Legendary Pizza!

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Wii Fit Jams: Music to sweat by…

OK, let me start by saying that the one and only complaint I have about our belovedĀ Wii Fit so far is that several of the workout “games” don’t have any musical accompaniment. Sure, the hula hoop workout has some music and the yoga has some dreamy sounds floating by in the background, but the jogging is totally devoid of music.

Now, the visuals on the island jog are gorgeous and the sound effects are awesome, but I like me some music when I jog…so rather than dash off an angry letter to Nintendo, I made an iPod playlist especially for my Wii Fit workout!

These aren’t the best songs on my iPod — and lord knows they aren’t the worst! — but if they get me moving and get the old blood pumping, then, good, bad or totally cheesy, they made the list. That said, I’m warning you ahead of time that this is definitely not the kind of music I recommend blasting from your car stereo as you cruise Hollywood Blvd. with your homies.

But if you’re working out in the comfort of your own home in the middle of the night, then have at it, amigos. This Wii Fit playlist is for you!

Before I list the songs, I should also add that this list is by no means permanent. I dumped about 5.5 hours worth of Wii Fit worthy music into the playlist and really only use the first 42-45 minutes worth of tunes, so, needless to say, I change the list up a lot. But as of right now…this is my list…

Since I usually start with about ten minutes of hard core hula hoop-ing — don’t laugh, that shit is harder than it looks and man, does it make you sweat! — I begin my workout with Van McCoy’s roller rink classic “The Hustle” (3:47). I know what you’re thinking, but trust me, disco and hula hoops are kind of like peas and carrots…they just work.

Next up is another glittery, disco-era jam, Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer” (3:25). I know it’s lame, but when I’m mid hula, it’s fun to imagine that the Sister’s Sledge are singing about me. That’s right, for a little over three minutes…I am the greatest dancer! Or, you know, hula hooper…

From here, I transition to classic, mid-60’s Elvis Presley for 2.07 minutes of “Bossa Nova Baby”. Dying for the hula hooping to end, I finish up the session with 2.38 minutes of Neil Diamond’s jangly, and, dare I say, “cracklin” good, “Cracklin’ Rosie”.

This next song was tricky as I needed something to bridge the hula hoop workout and the jogging program…music to put your jogging shoes on to. So, what better transitional tune than The Doors’ “Break on Through” (2:27). It doesn’t really take me that long to tie my shoes, but since pressing all the buttons and stuff does burn up some time, I figured, why not have some music to do it by? Right?

Now, the first song in the jogging program is the one I have changed the most. It’s hard to get the right balance of a great song and one that offers a nice, slow-build to the workout. So, as of right now, that song is Barbra Streisand’s “This is One of Those Moments” (4:04) from “Yentl”. I know it’s a pretty gay-ass jam, but hey, it does build up momentum and that’s all I was looking for.

Following “Yentl” is Mama Cass’ rocking “Make Your Own Kind of Music”. I have had that song on CD for years but only started really enjoying it since it was used on “Lost” a couple seasons back. If you haven’t heard this song yet, you’re missing out, amigos. Mama Cass rocked as a solo artist! Too bad they didn’t have Wii Fit in her day…know what I’m saying?

Next up, I am loathe to admit, is another embarrassing song: Alanis Morissette’s “Front Row” (4:13). Yes, it’s true…deep down I am a sulky twenty-year-old Liberal Arts chick with a Lilith Fair fixation. But seriously, despite the cold, disapproving glares from my wife and friends over the years, I have always dug Alanis. So…suck it, haters.

By this time, my heart is pumping and it’s time to turn up the volume, and since nobody does that better than Courtney Love, the next song on the playlist is Hole’s “Violet” (3:23). This song is like smelling salts to me…seriously, I could be out cold, hear those opening chords and be totally revived in seconds. It’s that good! And speaking of good, next up is Ben Fold’s equally-jamming “Zac and Sara” (3:10). What can I say? Nothing keeps fatty jogging more than some sweet, smoking, Southern piano! Go, Ben!

The next spot on the playlist is another one that has been changed several times. I think I started out with some Nick Cave and Avril Lavigne but have somehow ended up with Geri “Ginger Spice” Halliwell’s one solo hit “Look at Me” (2:44). I know, cheese-tastic. But I’ll tell you what, that zippy, UK trash-pop ditty keeps me moving, baby. So, rock on, “girl power”!

By this point, my little Mii has already made several laps around the Wii Fit island and is desperately in need of some inspiration to carry him to the 30 minute mark. This time, that inspiration comes from The Killers’ lush, almost insanely beautiful “Read My Mind” (4:06). Wow…this song shimmers almost as much as that virtual surf in the distance of Wii Fit island…amazing!

With the Wii FIt finish line in site, I segue back to The King for Elvis Presley’s kick-ass cover of Chuck Berry’s jaunty “Memphis Tennessee” (2:10). Wow…nothing like an ice cool song to counteract the sweat rolling down my shiny forehead! Yee-haw!

And then, as the clock ticks down the minutes in the upper right hand side of the screen, Neil Diamond returns to play me on home with “America” (4:17). When I have timed everything just right, I actually sweep across the finish line just as Neil belts out that “My country tis of thee…TODAY!” action. Man…what better way to end a workout? Thanks, Neil.

And just like that, it’s time to tally up my 42 Wii Fit fitness points — you get one point for every minute you work out — and hit the showers. Like I said, my playlist is a strange and ever-evolving beast right now, so if you have any cool tunes to add or, more likely, subtract, please, feel free to leave me a comment…

In the meantime, que viva los Wii Fit jams!

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