John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
 in a list that may never become organized
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JfZ making a mess of the web
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Friday, February 27, 2004
Passion of the Controversy

Braveheart goes to the Holy Land

I almost hestitate to comment on The Passion of the Christ knowing how passionate people get about their religion and politics.  But, then again, it's everywhere and everyone's talking about it anyway.  See my quote from Don Imus on the left side panel for how I feel about everyone and everything.

I have seen this film talked about in every telecommunications medium from television's Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN) and cable news magazine shows to radio and the internet.  I'm just waiting to get a friggin' text message on my cell phone about it next.

People describe the movie and its subsequent controversy in such diverse ways.  No matter what, the way people have been acting is as entertaining as Braveheart goes to the Holy Land.

Obviously, religious groups want to see the movie.  Christians want to see it as a testimony to their faith, Jews want to see it to find out if they should duck and cover, and Muslims want to see it out of sheer fascination with the christian fundamentalist counterpart of their own 'radical fundamentalist islamist'.  Mel Gibson took some heat for this movie in the beginning from Anti Defamation League (ADL) director Abraham Foxman calling him an anti-semite.  You'd think Mel Gibson was Osama bin Laden or something, but Foxman did have a point.

Controversy continued Wednesday when the Lovingway Pentacostal Church in Denver put up a marquee sign outside the church saying, "Jews killed the Lord Jesus." The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement of outrage after asking the pastor to remove the sign. He refused.... [The Rev. Maurice] Gordon said he was partly motivated by Gibson's movie, but added he would not be seeing the film itself because he neither attends movies nor watches television.

Some people will think it followed the Gospels.  Some will think it doesn't completely.  I just saw a special about it on the History channel's History vs Hollywood show.  TBN had the Making of the Passion airing seemingly continuously recently.  Some think it is way too violent, of course.

Personally, I feel no one should be surprised about some gore in a Mel Gibson movie.  Remember the end of Braveheart with poor Mel getting disemboweled in public for five or ten minutes?  Besides, it's a movie about the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ as the story is told in the Bible.  It's going to get a little messy with scourging and crucufixion.

From what little film clips I've seen of the Passion of the Christ, it looks interesting.  You know how I like my subtitles and I hear these actors are speaking Aramic and Latin, no less. So until I see the film, I'm not going to bash it much.  I know I'll have plenty of material dealing with people wearing the jewelry and acting foolish.  I prefer to wear a 9mm


Wednesday, February 25, 2004
A long trip on the rift

Gina Gershon is Six  Tripping the Rift (TTR) first debutted as a film short online on Film Roman's LEVEL13.NET in November 1999.  It then won the grand prize in the first Playboy Animation Contest in 2000.  In April 2002, CinéGroupe announced the production deal with SciFi Channel, in association with Film Roman, for thirteen half-hour episodes of TTR.  It was then slated to air in early 2003.

The cast is interesting. Howard Stern regular Stuttering John will provide the voice for an agoraphobic ship's computer named Bob and Gina Gershon will do the voice for the sexy cyborg Six.  Along with Six and Bob, the story follows the adventures of The Free Enterprise, a smuggling vessel led by a stumpy purple alien named ChodeGus is Chode's sexually-confused robot slave, T'Nuk is the ship's aesthetically-challenged pilot, and Whip is Chode's teenaged slacker nephew.

Finally after some delay, SciFi channel is airing Tripping the Rift March 4th, 2004 as part of their SciFi Thursdays promotion along with Mad Mad House and new episodes of Scare Tactics.



Monday, February 23, 2004
The Swiss are strange people

We think our cat is gay

One thing that playing all that Quake recently did for my brain was to make me remember how much fun it was to create maps and levels for Doom and Quake back when "the dinosaurs roamed the earth" and we all had orgasms ripping off Circuit City or Best Buy by returning our old 2400 baud modems in the 28.8Kbps modem box thus getting it the upgrade for free.  Okay, so we're all going to hell for stealing.  Mayhem or Hygelic might ... I think it was one of their bright ideas.

Speaking of dinosaurs, I saw on SNL's Weekend Update that since creationism is now part of the curriculum taught in favor of darwinian evolution in some schools, dinosaurs will now be referred to as "Jesus Ponies".

Back to Quake.  I promise to stop inundating Thunderstorms with mod reviews.  If I start perseverating again, I'll just post-date some entries to have them publish no more than once-per-week or something.  Maybe we can start a "Blood Splatter Monday" tradition?

But, playing Quake again did get me back in front of the monitor thinking about digital grafix.  Here's a web site I came across a while ago with some interesting digital art, so to speak -- XCult.  You people with high-speed connections should have some fun.

Another thing I've been meaning to publish here is the link for the One Word Movie.  I put in the word Melicious and got to see more of that freaky Texas Roller Derby Chick.  So, check that out, too.

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Sunday, February 22, 2004
Q3A - OverWhelming Hostility

It's frag-a-licious!  OverWhelming Hostility is described as a little/medium-sized green gothic map for tourney and Death Match by its  designer Auhsan.  It's really a very nicely done level with an assortment of strategically placed weapons and goodies inside a cathedral structure.  There are only two places to get yellow armor -- very near the rocket launcher respawn location and a more visible spot that seems to be a hub of activity in a courtyard.  This spot is very near where I found myself trying to maintain control of the area where a sole megahealth respawns.

The megahealth ledge offered a nice high-ground advantage to the courtyard and armor shards on the ramp located behind this position would often alert you to anyone sneaking up to blast one in the back of your head.  Unless, of course, you killed the first bot, returned to look out on the courtyard and a second or third bot came up silently from behind before the armor shards respawned.

The majority of the time the armor shards worked as an alarm to check your own six, though.  Facing out onto the courtyard, you can monitor three entrances into this area and two exits.  The first entrance and exit is the ground level hallway and a teleporter in the courtyard on the same ground level is the other exit.  A teleporter destination coming from the rocket launcher respawn area deposits a number of potential victims directly across your position in the courtyard tower.  They are not helpless though, as this is where the plasma rifle respawn is located.  In addition, a bot might just teleport up there with any number of the highly effective range weapons, like the plasma rifle, rocket launcher or a sniper's favorite, the rail gun.

While a happy camper like me can stayed jacked up on megahealth for eternity, Auhsan still makes me go off my perch and hunt down some quick ammo once I deplete it into the virtual corpses of the hapless bots.  Ammo is also strategically placed far enough away from its given weapon to discourage too much static camping.  Auhsan thanked a number of beta-testers in his info file, and I thank them too.  This just goes to show that a good idea for a Quake level gets better with play testing it over and over to tweak it out one more time.  This is an awesome good map for 3-5 players.

Download AUH3DM1A.ZIP from fileplanet, extract the PK3 file into your Q3 Arena directory and launch Q3 Arena as you normally would do to play the game.  After the first menu is shown on your display, pull down the game console (your tilde key) and type in "/map auh3dm1".  The map will load and the game will start.  Then for single player, just go to the "Add Bots" menu and bring on some of your favorite bots to the fight.



Friday, February 20, 2004
Mouse-over Menus

mo menu 1mo menu, mo menumo menu, mo menu, mo menu!
So, besides playing Quake 2 and Quake 3 Team Arena during my long overnight hours babysitting the Retardo Cat, I've also been making some mouse-over menu templates.  I personally prefer an id software techno-style for navigational menu systems myself, but I was playing with some ideas for different styles.

Since I was thinking in template mode, I also wanted to make some interchangeable parts for the same menu. That way, one could save all the graphic work done for the mouse-over action on the menu buttons and just change out the top and bottom graphics for a different look. For example, like the first and second menu screen shots, one could quickly incorporate a company logo at the top.

Overall, the menu has to load in the browser fairly fast since the majority of the world is like me and doesn't have a high-speed connection to the internet.  Bandwidth and graphic file size is still going to be an issue.  Even if the user/visitor has a DSL, or whatever, the web site owner still pays for page downloads usually so keeping file size small is still a good habit to keep.  Since it is a menu system likely to be on all the pages on a site (in a frame or not), once the browser caches the first menu, it shouldn't be a problem.

The 11 different grafix that make up the 3rd menu (above) plus the html file only adds up to 36Kb.  The first and second menus come in under 20k.  The screen shots above are not actual menu size -- they've been reduced.  The third menu is kind of fun because the mouse-over action is like tweaking beads on an abacus rather than the typical button-depress style of the first two copper/leather menus.

So, that's what I have been up to lately.  If you need a set of menus for your web site, contact me and we can talk about it.  Or you can see what you can make with Paint and Notepad yourself.

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