Sort of a follow-up to yesterday’s post, this features the various bits and pieces I’ve come across in the last couple of weeks that are worth sharing. First up is an ingeniously innovative new use of the Nintendo Wii hardware for head tracking, with a great demonstration that ought to impress even those who are not gaming-inclined. Tycho over at Penny Arcade postponed his regular blog post to show off this video, and those who know the site also know he is never one to shut up!
The American cover for The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman’s next book, has been revealed. Of course following the standard trend this means we can expect something completely different here in the UK. His entire back catalogue was re-released in a single style with Anansi Boys a few years ago, with the Fragile Things collection continuing that design. It will be interesting to see if they follow suit with the new book or produce something divergent.
With a lot of buzz hovering around the imminent release of Cloverfield produced by Lost creator JJ Abrams, supposedly reinvigorating the monster film genre, people have apparently forgotten the film he is actually directing. The film in question is Star Trek, a prequel that looks at the roots of Kirk and Spock, and one that will make or break the future of the franchise. The cast list is impressive, including Heroes villain Zachary Quinto (Sylar) as Spock in an inspired piece of casting. Somewhat stranger are comedy actors Simon Pegg and John Cho as Scotty and Sulu respectively. A teaser trailer has now been released which, as is now expected, reveals virtually nothing beyond the exterior of the Enterprise. Hopefully some real footage will emerge before long.
Here at the flat we’ve upgraded our entire wireless network, replacing the old Netgear router with a Belkin wireless N setup. Far more robust and with massively increased bandwidth, this actually allows for smooth wireless streaming of video via the Xbox even in high definition. So yes, that means HD trailers displayed on the Bravia in the living room which looks stunning. Wall-E has actually been the most oft-played for its sheer level of detail in the junkyard sequences. Its left me very keen to get more HD content to play with and with the Blu-ray camp delivering a decisive blow at the beginning of this month at CES, seemingly ending the format war earlier than expected, it’s becoming very difficult to hold back. That is, until one looks at the prices. My wallet whimpers and I go back to looking at DVDs.
Rounding out the Christmas party week was Irina and Andy’s drinks party on Saturday evening. With mocks this week I almost missed it, but fortunately she convinced me to pop in for a few hours. I had not previously met any of the other guests, mostly ex-Cambridge students as well as Andy’s sister. Rivalry swiftly ensued as the Wii was fired up, the battleground being the pretty awfulCarnival: Funfair Games. A ramshackle collection of 25 fairly ugly mini-games, it’s a momentary diversion before swiftly moving to tedious and infuriating. It was described by Eurogamer as the sort of game you would only pay when “you’d rather eat soap than play one more round of Wii Sports baseball”. It highlights the chief issue plaguing the Wii: while the console may be selling well with no signs of slowing, Nintendo’s lack of any form of quality control when it comes to third party releases means most of the games border on unplayable. The games made by Nintendo themselves are uniformly excellent, but brave the rest at your peril.
Accompanying wines and a special bottle of vodka Irina brought with her from the Ukraine was an impressive spread of doughnuts. It seems that inadvertently my innocuous housewarming gift of a box of Krispy Kremes a few months ago sparked something of an addiction once I informed them there was one in Paddington station. I seem to be alarmingly proficient at inducing such addictions, having also hooked Jenna on Lindt white chocolate truffles, for which I feel particularly guilty as importing Swiss chocolates to the States is even more exorbitant than here. Woe betide anyone I accidentally introduce to heroin…
This relaxation was needed after Meredith’s funeral on Friday. It is not something on which I wish to dwell, though it was certainly cathartic that we were finally able to say our farewells as she was laid to rest. Being able to share this traumatic time with friends who knew her helped a great deal although it stirred some guilt that many of us have not stayed in touch as well as we ought. This jarring experience will hopefully force us to make a greater effort. The service was wonderful with excellent music selections including Mez’s fav With or Without You and closing with Sigur Ros’ incredibly soothing Hoppipolla. The tributes from her siblings were truly inspiring, showing real strength as they delivered heartfelt but upbeat messages. The only mar on the day was the inevitable, but nonetheless intrusive, press presence. Circling like vultures outside the church, I am not sure what they expected to see — it was a funeral, people were upset — but it was not exactly what mourners needed to be faced with as they left.