Review: Second Skin

“Second Skin” is a
documentary focusing on gamers who play Massively Multiplayer Online
Roleplaying Games (MMORPGs). It follows a few small groups of gamers
distributed around the country, all playing either World of Warcraft (WoW)
or Everquest II (EQ2). All are rather committed to their games, some
consider themselves addicted, with one entering himself into a 12-step
program to try and break is addiction

Given how easily these subjects could have been played for laughs, I felt
this movie was surprisingly even-handed. There were clearly some moments
where humor was at the expense of the subjects, but they were few and far
between. It was suprising in the Q&A with the filmmakers after the
screening that the first question was basically a complaint that the film
showed gamers in a negative light. It seemed clear to me that this person
was just bringing their own baggage to the event.

That’s not to say that the movie didn’t have it’s flaws. The
“storylines” of the various sets of subjects were intercut, and at times it
was difficult to keep track of the relationships and who the various players
were. I also would have liked to see more information about the rehab
facility. The woman who ran the facility seemed to have a very negative
opinion of gamers, accusing them of feigned helplessness and laziness. She
didn’t strike me as emitting the kind of energy that someone in recovery
really needs. And as far as I can tell from the film, her only
accreditation is that her son was an addicted gamer. The film presented her
as a very negative character, and I wonder how true that is.

Online gamers are often dismissed as anti-social losers, but this look
into the lives of gamers and the relationships built between them is an
interesting counterpoint to conventional wisdom.

Catching up

My birthday was bad-ass, really went above-and-beyond to make me feel like my birthday lasted forever. She had already gotten me Rock Band earlier in the month, which we’ve been playing the hell out of. She also threw me a killer birthday party, where a bunch of people joined us for a bit of the game as well as the final “Greatest Action Movie Showdown of All Time” between “Die Hard” and “The Bourne Identity”. Coco has maintained for quite some time that Bourne was superior, but we all know the truth. I think everyone had a blast.

On my birthday, Corinna got me yet another birthday present, a Japanese Peace Lily. Admittedly, I was unable to identify the plant on my own, but as soon as she clued me in I started dying. I got a bunch of other gifts as well, including a meat manual and a few more seasons of South Park from the fam.

Other than that, the baseball season has finally fired up. The Sox opened the season in Tokyo a week ago, which meant for very early games here in the States, 6am. To help celebrate the Great Day, I woke up at 4:45am and whipped up 40-sum pancakes (from scratch) and 3.5 lbs of delicious bacon. 10-12 people joined us in watching the Sox win. Afterwards there was Rock Band to be played and we took a trip to Kelly’s Roast Beef for the goodness. Sorry if I wasn’t able to invite you, but our living room is only so big and it was tough enough managing three electric griddles…. I was pretty much at the limit of my pancake fabrication abilities (18 pancakes at a time).

Tomorrow I’m heading out to Austin for the nuptials of Nate and Lilly. I’ve never been to Austin before, and I’m expecting it will be more enjoyable than that of my other trips to Texas.

Christmas 2007 Report

Here’s a quick highlight reel from the past few weeks. I’m sure I left out some important details, so please forgive me for the quick buzz:

Dad drove up from NJ on the 20th, and after a quick meal at the Halfway, I took the wheel and drove us back to Hopatcong. It was snowing in Boston-land, but once we got a bit west it mostly ceased. We made good time and didn’t really encounter any big problems. Getting home we were greeted by Mom, Aimee, Aiden and the dogs. It was the first time meeting Aiden and he was just as cute as the avalanche of pictures have portrayed him. Aimee and Aiden had to fly back to Tennessee before Christmas, so we celebrated early. Saturday morning we drove down to Grammy and Grampy’s neighborhood for lunch with them, and then returned to Hopatcong to sit down around the tree and open gifts. Everyone seemed to enjoy the gifts which were exchanged, and I got all kinds of stuff. I got a bunch of cooking-related books and items, which was cool. I also got a few more seasons of South Park to further round out my collection. went above and beyond and got me a Donkey Cigarette Dispenser. While I don’t smoke, I love donkeys, so this alone would have been an awesome gift, but she then instructed me to operate the dispenser. A pencil shot out of the ass’ ass (haha) and it was wrapped in a piece of paper reading “Good for One Xbox 360”. I had been talking about getting one for awhile now, so this was a real nice surprise. While it was weird to me to celebrate Christmas a few days early (and at night, to boot!), I soon got over it and enjoyed spending time with kith and kin. We popped in Christmas Vacation and dug in for the night.

The rest of our time in NJ was great, I even had the opportunity to make attempts 3 and 4 at “Mission: Kolach”. 3 continued the improvements I had managed with attempt 2, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I think everyone else was more forgiving of it than me, but I intend to keep working on it until it’s perfect. But I was able to get the crust much less thick by kneading less. I’m going to knead even less next time and see what happens. Attempt 4 was somewhat of a disaster in my mind. I mis-measured the butter and added 8 tbsp. instead of the 6 I had been working with. I’m also going to get a second loaf pan so I can make a double-recipe. I took the original recipe, which made 4 loaves, and quartered it, but that left some of the measurements odd (1.5 egg yolks, for instance), so by making two loaves I can eliminate those weird measurements (which I ended up rounding up to avoid having to deal with it).

On Christmas Day, Dad took Corinna and I to the Newark Airport for our flight to Michigan. When we got to the airport we found out our flight was delayed by two hours. We went to the bar for a few drinks to kill some time, and while we were sitting there I saw David Zayas (a.k.a. Lt. Angel Batista from Dexter) approach the bar, I did a double take, but without mentioning anything to Corinna, when he stepped away from the bar and sat in the booth behind me, she saw and heard him and came to the same conclusion. We didn’t bother him, but we just silently geeked out in our booth.

We arrived at Coco’s parents’ house around 9:30pm, and much of the family was already there. We mostly just decompressed and hung out with everyone. The next day we observed Wigilia, and everyone was there. It was really cool, and it was fun watching all the kids open their gifts. The Wigilia meal was huge but delicious as always… I actually felt like I was going to explode. This probably wouldn’t have been considered very festive, so I managed to hold myself together.

We spent the rest of our time in Michigan visiting friends and family. We drove up closer to Detroit to visit Corinna’s Great Aunt and Uncle. Her great aunt has been ill lately, so it was important that we got up to see them. Afterwards we headed over to the Raz’s abode to visit , Andy, and Colin. We headed for dinner over to Game Works, which is kinda like Jillians’ used to be, an adult arcade with several bars. The food was only so-so, but it was great catching up with the Razzies, as the past few visits to Michigan we’ve had limited exposure. Their kid could easily be the “token cute kid” in a sitcom if he developed a catchphrase (although “I SIT DOWN I SIT DOWN” might be a good start). Also, I can’t remember the last time I was set loose in an Arcade, so I had a great time. Corinna and Amy kicked it DDR style a few times. Andy and I stuck mostly to vehicle games, although we did go for a few rounds in that Jurassic Park shooter. When we got back to Chelsea, we dug into the Pats game with Kim. The rest of our time in Michigan was pretty laid back and quiet (at least in comparison to having 19 people sleep in one house!) We had a wine and cheese movie night with Corinna’s parents and watched #99 and #100 on my video list for 2006.

The trip back to Boston was pretty uneventful, occuring mostly on time and after a short taxi ride to Watertown we were home. I turned right back around to go to the markets to get supplies for our New Years party, and afterwards crashed into the bed for a nap to recharge. Everyone came over around 9pm and seemed to have a great time. The party broke up around 2am, and while we had a ton of leftovers I was actually expecting worse. The next morning I went out first thing to redeem my Xbox voucher, and after some AV-setup wrangling (and a trip back out to Best Buy for a forgotten accessory) I was up and running. I basically played with it for the rest of the day… You can find me on Live as “dos burros”.


My life over the past two days has been consumed with Portal and watching baseball.  Portal is the bomb.  I walk to work now and think about how it would be awesome to shoot a portal there and there…  I even had portal dreams last night;  It has reached the Tetris level of puzzle greatness where it consumes most of my thoughts during the day.  I haven’t even played Half-Life: Episode Two yet.

The Sox game last night was awesome, Hopefully they’ll keep up the good work and win through game 7.  Our new couch is apparently being delivered tonight, which will hopefully increase guest comfort.


This weekend was the Brainwaves Festival over in Arlington, which was a ton of fun. Jon really did a great job pulling the whole thing together, and while I wasn’t in to every artist, it was great seeing so many different bands. The highlight for me was The Dresden Dolls turning out a great set (even if they seemed out of place in the midst of the other bands on the lineup). Amanda and Brian brought out Edward Ka-Spel (from The Legendary Pink Dots and The Tear Garden) for “Missed Me”. I’m not the biggest Ka-Spel fan (I actually left before his set, closing out Friday, was over, but I was mostly just exhausted).

After a Kelly’s brunch, I made it back to the theatre on time on Saturday Afternoon. This daytime lineup seemed to be mostly noise artists, which can always be hit-or-miss. Fortunately, none of them seemed to take themselves too seriously, which made it more palatable. came out Saturday night to join me, and it was great seeing him again and catching up. Saturday night was definitely my favorite overall night of the show. It was dedicated to Steven Stapleton, who did a “DJ” set playing some of his favorite records. All of the artists Saturday night were enjoyable, but the stand-out band were also the headliners, Volcano the Bear. They had great energy, and while at times they seemed to be in Schtick Coma, they really rocked it out.

I missed the final day of the festival as I had previously committed to heading over to ‘s place for some Nintendo Wii love. He has preordered his and was having a big party to celebrate (and play). We mostly played Wii Sports, Tennis and Baseball are the standout games, but Bowling is pretty cool too. Golf and Boxing were a bit spottier though. Boxing definitely felt like your actions with the remote had the least correspondence to what happened on screen. That, and Corinna kicked my ass at Boxing, so I can’t like it. :P

We played from like noon until 6pm, when and I had to run off to see “Casino Royale”. I really, really enjoyed it, as did seemingly everyone who showed up to the club this week (17 people!). Definitely removed the crappier aspects of Bond for the past however-many years and stuck to spying and action (Parkour FTW).

Death by Steamship

Last night, after some Quake IV with the coworkers, I gave the new game “The Ship” a spin. When I first heard the description of this game, the first thing that came to mind was the real-life game we played at CSH called “Death by Dagger”. The jist of “Death by Dagger” is that each player is assigned a dagger with another player’s name on it. To “kill” your assigned player you have to be alone with them in a room; when you kill them you take their dagger as your next victim. Repeat until you are killed or are the last man standing.

“The Ship” is a video game interpretation of these same ideas. You are a passenger on a cruise ship, and you are assigned another passenger to murder. But before you can do that you have to find a weapon; a fire axe… a screwdriver… almost anything you can pick up.. Of course, if you can’t find anything, and you are lucky, you might be able to lock them in a sauna. Don’t forget, however, that one of the other passengers has your name and is hunting you. On top of the primary goal, your character has “needs”, similar in concept (but cooler in spirit) to “The Sims”. Your character needs to eat, sleep, bathe, and go to the bathroom. So you have to take the time to serve these needs; but while you are doing so you are rather vulnerable…

While the game has a “bot” based single player variant, it is really meant to be played against real people online. I had alot of fun playing last night, and look forward to taking another voyage. But you don’t have to take my word for it!

It’d be interesting to run a server at CSH!

Weekend Hijinks

This was a crazy weekend… Friday night I went over ‘s place to watch the first World Cup games (Tivo delayed, of course). There was chili to be eaten, booze to be dranked, and friends to scream and yell with. Before lots of people got over we played some pass-around Worms. We had to play passaround because people had to wait until Sunday to get their DS Lites… Anyway, that was tons of fun and I didn’t get home until like 1am.

Saturday morning I had to wake up extra-extra early to take to South Station, as she was headed to NYC for the weekend to visit with some college friends.. When I got back to the apartment I couldn’t sleep, so I watched some TV and geeked out until noon. At noon I returned to Matt’s for grilling, DS-in, and more soccer. At night we headed out to Saugus for some delicious Kelly’s Roast Beef, but on the way noticed that the Krispy Kreme in Medford (which has been closed for months) will soon be replaced by ANOTHER KELLY’S! Kelly’s delicious roast beef only half as far away? Sign me the fuck up!

Sunday was more of the same, except Pat and Matt both had their DS’ finally, so we were able to play wireless Worms instead, which was way more fun… Saw Raiders of the Lost Ark with the film club last night, which was awesome on the big screen, and Corinna returned, exhausted, from her weekend trip.

This morning we met with the contractor who will be renovating our bathroom in the next few weeks, which took way longer than expected, but he answered alot of important questions for us and made us feel generally better about the whole process.

Lewk is a Feeb

Let’s take a moment to thank , who managed to send a million message undeliverable notifications today; one for each message he has saved in the past year or so (to the author of said message). I alone got 100+!

In other news, the Nintendo DS Zelda game looks badass.