Thursday, June 30, 2005

Chotebor!

On Saturday, I am leaving for Chotebor (with my girlfirend and both dogs). In fact, it's written "Chotěboř" and you probably cannot pronounce it if you are not Czech (approximately "Khotyeborz"). Why? Because of Fantasy Festival convention. I'll show some trailers, talk about movies and dubbing, but most of all I'll unwind, play boardgames and Zelda Four Swords with other geeks and maybe post some photos of people in weird costumes.

Mapping the movies

I am still amazed about Google Maps and still patiently waiting for them to fully support Europe (currently, just a part of Prague is visible in hi-res, including my house. Meanwhile, I am trying to find various interesting locations on the U.S. map. For example, after I saw WAR OF THE WORLDS, I found out that Tom Cruise's character probably lives here amd the ferry incident happened right here (unfortunately, no detailed satellite shot is available). I also tried to find Stonehenge and the crater from STARMAN but it seems detailed maps are also missing for those areas.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Highway mystery from beyond the grave

Car crash near Tokyo. 28-year old mother, 32-year old father and 3-year old son. The car crashed and son got thrown out. The father got out and incoming car killed them both. So far nothing extraordinary. However, according to the police, the mother, found on the back seat, was already dead at least a day before the accident! (Reported at CNN.com). Scary!

Stuff like this happens all the time in Japan. That's why they make such great movies.

Harry Potter vs. the terrorists (in the tropics)

From this BBC story about Guantanamo: "They watched the interrogation of three suspects, including one in which a detainee was read a Harry Potter book aloud for hours until he turned his back and put his hands over his ears."

I always said Harry Potter books and movies are evil (except for the girl who plays Hermione).

Saturday, June 25, 2005

There's party up at Schindler's and I'm on his A-list

It's one thing to make "funny" jokes, pictures, animations, songs etc. about Hitler. That's no longer shocking for anyone who "Lives on teh intarnet" (well, maybe, sometimes it still is). But it's quite another thing to make Hitler song that is actually funny! (From www.whitestkids.com)

The people have spoken. Now what?

U.S. Always said that Iran is evil because it has no democracy. Now, during the undisputedly democratic elections, the Iranian people have democratically chosen the ultraconservative presidential candidate who is - according to the U.S. - opposed to democracy. I suppose this is not democratic and they'll have to be bombed after all...

Friday, June 24, 2005

Hello, my name is...

I thought there is nothing worse when trying to communicate with English-speaking people than having the last name "Fuka". But this guy probably has it even tougher! My sympathies...

BTW, the word "fuka" supposedly has lots of different meanings in Japanese (including "shark", "improper" nad "cuddly").

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Risus - putting the fun back into RPGs

I discovered the RPG games (the pen & paper kind) at the end of 1980s. At that time, it was usually defined as "the game those kids in E.T. The Extraterrestrial play". The people I knew have photocopied (very badly) basic Dungeons & Dragons books and played according to the D&D Monster Manual. I wrote "played according to the Monster Manual" because they didn't know English very well, had only a basic grasp of the basic rules and basically only played the game as a series of monster encounters, using the numeric stats from the Monster Manual (not really understanding the text below the stats).

It's only logical that, after this experience, pen & paper RPGs seemed to me like very poor imitations of computer RPGs (which vere already rather well established at that time) and I lost interest in them.

Several years later I had another look at RPG. My friend played Vampire The Masquarade live action games in Prague and although I didn't participate, I got an idea that this could actually be very cool activity but it greatly depends on the Dungeon Master. Concurrently, it occured to me that almost all the RPG rules are superficial and DM only needs good storytelling skills, good improvisation capabilities, flexibility and cool ideas. And RPG sessions can be enjoyed by mature people without having to consult lots of weird tables.

After several more years, I bought the three basic D&D books and read them just for the fun of it. Although I already knew English very well at the time, I didn't quite understand the relationships between all the tables and it sure as hell didn't look like fun. I found out that there are several simple "universal" RPG systems that you can get from the Internet for free! One of them was Risus from Cumberland Games & Diversions. Have a look at it, there is even a Czech version.

Some of the things on Cumberland pages are not free. However, there was so much excellent quality free stuff over there that I bought "The Risus Companion" - again - just for the fun of it. (I also used it as an opportunity to try out PayPal, which can now be used by Czechs at last - at least for sending money.) And I was not disappointed. For $10 ($10, think about it!) you get 64-page PDF file with lots of examples (and answers to questions I thought about after reading the basic rules). And charming illustrations. And lots and lots of cool ideas for ANY KIND of RPG setting and system. Plus, it's written exceptionally well. I actually had so much fun reading it I'd recommend it to anyone remotely interested in the RPG phenomenon. You'll learn more by reading this than by wading throuch hundreds of pages of "Dungeons & Dragons Dugeon Master Manual Handbook Reference Core Rules v3.599" or whatever. And you'll get an idea why RPGs with good GM can be FUN. It really whet my appetite.

Now, where can I get several almost normal mature people to play with? :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

CNN: "Terror suspects have no right to be funny!"

This CNN story about cleared "suspected terrorist" was originally accompanied by this great photo:



What do you think? Could someone so cheerful and good-natured be able to harm a fly (or some skyscrapers)? His warm smile brings happiness to my heart.

However, about 30 minutes later, the photo was replaced by this one:



Shame on you, CNN!

BTW, what's with all the "suspected terrorist" crap (with "suspected" occasionally being dropped)? What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"? Is it OK to call George W. Bush "suspected dog rapist" because I suspect him of this?

Happy birthday to him!

Albert 3 years
Yep, our Albert is now 3 years old. That's 21 years in dog years. that means he can now legally drink and - most importantly - have sex. If you know about someone who would like to have sex with Albert, please let me know.

P.S: Albert prefers dogs.

P.P.S: As an anonymous reader pointed out, Albert actually prefers bitches to dogs!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Whatever doesn't kill you...

Several Prague trams now sport the following advertisement: "Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" (it's an ad for a power drink). The "funny" thing is, that this ad is also present on the same tram which killed two people and injured others about 3 months ago.



Someone complained and Prague Transit Authority dutifully removed the ad from the "offending" tram. This is stupid. There cannot be more than 10 or so people who remember the exact service number (not line number) of the "killer tram". And, when you pay for tram banners, you cannot be sure which lines they will end on, much less the exact trams. Plus, it was rather good joke...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Czech legal system = 0wn3d!

Have a look at this man. If you see him somewhere, inform the police. He is a fugitive. His tale is really cool story about either total incompetency or total corruption of Czech legal system.



His name is Radovan Krejcir. He is a suspect in several fraud cases worth several millions (U.S. dollars!) and tax evasion worth 20 millions (also USD). He was already jailed once and secret room was found in his house, containing ilegally owned firearms and documents about his crimes. However, Krejcir had to be released, because he was sitting in the jail for 12 months without the state charging him with anything (apparently, they wanted to, but 12 months wasn't enough to prepare the required documents)!

Yesterday night, he was arrested again by SWAT unit (with big guns, stun grenades etc). Today, his home was searched (with him present) and during the search - and now I quote the police - "Krejcir took advantage of the complexity of his mansion and disappeared". Wow, magic!

And almost unrelated news story from today: There are not enough people to transcribe audio records of Czech court proceedings to text and not enough money to hire more people. The solution? The transcripts will be done by prisoners! I guess there will be some special comission to ensure that no prisoner gets to transcribe records from his own case. Maybe some other prisoner can oversee this...

Friday, June 17, 2005

Decided!

Thanks to wonderful people from kartinki.cz, I now have plenty of inspiration for a makeover of my new flat. All the suggestions are here. Personally, I liked this one most but I found out it's very expensive to get laser beams for the sharks. So I'll have to settle for Pikachu.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Boycott Nintendo!

I just saw this screenshot from the "Goldeneye: Rogue Agent" videogame:



Do you see the icons on the lower display? Supposedly, those are "Special Goldeneye abilites" you can activate. It's evident that the second one transforms you into a Jew and gives you some special kosher powers (BTW, the name "Goldfinger" sounds very Jewish!). And the one on the left probably makes you black. I still have to deduct what the remaining two icons mean...

But this racism should not be tolerated. If I bought the game, I'd demand a refund and an apology to all black Jews!

American Idol

When I saw Seabiscuit, a movie about an underdog horse (i.e. underhorse) who brings hope to a nation during the Great Depression, I liked it but didn't quite get the point. Why did the public feel that the horse does someting for them? I felt the movie left out something important.

Recently, I saw Cinderella Man, a movie about an underdog pugilist (i.e. boxer) who brings hope to a nation during the Great Depression, I liked it too (although not as much as the underhorse). And again, I didn't quite get the point. How could that one man lift the spirit of the nation by beating someone else to a bloody pulp and/or being himself beaten to a bloody pulp?

Two movies, both well directed and acted, and yet both based on an idea that seems totally alien to me. I don't know any comparable story from the Czech history (or non-U.S. history, for that matter). I can imagine Depression. I can imagine under-someone rising against the odds. I cannot imagine this fact helping me to overcome the Depression (and my own depression, resulting from the Depression).

Is it possible that North Americans are brought up in such a way that they need idols and heroes to forget about their own hardships? It would certainly seem that there is a trend to "manufacture" heroes during the hard times. I watched in disbelief when I heard repeated ad nauseam that "all people who died during the attacks on September 11 are heroes (except the ones who piloted the planes, of course, those are not people)". Note the word "all". Somehow, I cannot equate the act of "being at his workplace in the morning of September 11, 2001" with the definition of the word "hero". I always thought that one becomes "hero" by doing something, not by being at the right (wrong) place at the right (wrong) time, not necessarily doing anything at all.

But maybe America needs it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Decisions, decisions

pict0242
This is where I'll live in a few weeks (the terrace at the top). Thousands of people will be passing by daily and I think there has to be something there to grab their attention.

My first thoughts were "large neon sign saying FREE SEX", "upside-down life-sized Jesus on a cross" and "replica of Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid". Of course, the problem is not only with the idea but also with money to pay for the idea. What would you suggest?

UPDATE: If you are reading this on June 15 or shortly thereafter, you can view the first reader suggestions on this discussion board!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Michael Jackson, formerly known as black singer

The verdict in Michael Jackson's case is due in about 20 minutes. There's a real possibility that he'll be packing his toothbrush, slippers and anal protector soon.

Whatever the outcome, his financial situation probably not improve (it was already bad before the trial) and he will not be able to sell the memorabilia and music rights forever. The question I am pondering is: When someone who was famous and hyper-mega-rich loses his money, what does he do? Will he be able to sell everything, live less famous life without bodyguards, stay in small penthouse somewhere and guest-star in sitcoms? Somehow, I cannot imagine Jackson living "normal life". Even if he could, the people wouldn't leave him alone. He will probably have to kill himself.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Yatai? Yatta!

This post serves several purposes. First of all, this link contains excellent photos of Japanese food stalls. Secondly, if you haven't yet, visit masamania.com and see other photographs this Japanese guy shows there. His posts capture the Japanese madness perfectly. I thought maybe my blog could be something like Masamania.com, but no, I don't take as much photos and my English is not bad enough. Thirdly, seeing his photos makes me remember my Tokyo visits and makes me sad I cannot visit it again immediately. Below is a photo from my second (and last) Tokyo visit (click to see the details of "Japanese folk craft"):
pict0002

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Please protect the starving studios from Internet thieves

The Czech release of Spielberg's War of the Worlds is on June 29 (the same day as in the USA). Okay, that's still almost three weeks away. But now it gets interesting: In order to physically create the (large) required number of subtitled prints, the final translation has to be handed over by the translator on June 15 at the latest. That's what the subtitling company told me. What they didn't tell me is when will I be able to see the damn movie! I now have six days until the deadline, I still cannot start working and no one has any idea when I will be able to start working! The movie is still physically not in the Czech Republic.

Yes, the translation can be done in one day (i.e. 24 hours), in the worst case. But it's only logical that the resulting work (which should be creative literary work, mind you!) lacks the required quality. (This is how it was with the second and third MATRIX - There was no time to proofread the subtitles and as a result, for example, Sati is sometimes called "Seti".)

With dubbed movies (e.g. Star Wars, Robots, Madagascar), the translation and dubbing is done from the unfinished workprints (downloaded digitally over the secure satellite line). However, with subtitled movies, the translator is out of luck.



MPAA probably thinks that shipping the prints worldwide at the last possible instant somehow combats the piracy (workprints of Star Wars or Robots haven't been pirated even when hundreds of people all over the world had access to them several months in advance). But let me tell you a secret: In order to meet the local release deadlines and to have the Czech version ready in time, local distributors now sometimes have to download their own movies from the BitTorrent warez sites because the official prints shipped from the U.S. are late. Way to go, MPAA!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Lara Croft Toom Raider

I just saw a promo for "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" on Czech TV and - as always - the word "tomb" was pronounced "thomb" as if it rhymed with "bomb", while it should in fact be pronounced as "toom" (rhyming with "room"). I find it rather fascinating that no one in our country ever pronounces this simple word right. Even I instinctively use the "thomb" version because otherwise people wouldn't understand me. I don't know of any other such word...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Ringtones strike back (Winnetou, Fish, AIDS, Cunt)

I made three new ringtones (including very ethnic Winnetou theme) and put them to http://www.fuxoft.cz/tmp/dl/mp3/ringtones/. However, I am unable to match the sheer genius of this ringtone, which is only "safe for work" if you want to change your employment.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Declare the war to the fart menace!

Czech TV is currently full of ads for "Casper's active absorbtion pad" which absorbs "up to 99% of gases". Yes, it neutralizes your farts! And it's supposedly "Bestseller in USA and Canada" (although I couldn't find anything through Google).

Have a look at http://caspers.cz/popis.htm. It uses "3D material based on space technology" and offers "solution to natural problems wherever you sit down for a long time". It can be yours for a very special price of just about $20. The question is: What can you do to prevent your farts from being heard? I guess there is still room for an improvement.