Though the beginning of 2013 was marked by myriad triumph for Anne Hathaway as awards were being heaped upon her for her performance in Les Misérables, it’s also when Hathahate was at its most fervent. READ FULL STORY
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It’s no secret that kids have a tendency to drain their parents’ bank accounts. And a particularly mischievous youngster like Calvin from Calvin And Hobbes—the syndicated daily comic strip by Bill Watterson that ran from 1985 to 1995—can rack up quite the bill. Just how much? Matt J. Michel, editor of the part-serious, part-satirical science journal Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science (PNIS), conducted some pretty legit research to estimate how much monetary damage Calvin and his partner in crime/tiger friend Hobbes did throughout the comic strip’s lifetime. His expert conclusion: $15,955.50, which works out to $1,850 per year.
Michel was as serious and meticulous in his not-so-groundbreaking work as a NASA scientist. His fastidious methodology included documenting each instance of property damage, and then calculating the expenses using the regional labor and material costs of Watterson’s hometown, Chagrin Falls, Ohio. (Exhibit A: Calvin caused five house-flooding incidents at expense of $4,798.83 each.) As for the value of the items Calvin destroyed over the years, Michel sourced his pricing from Amazon, save for Calvin’s mother’s sweater—which he deemed high quality enough to use J. Crew as his benchmark. In the spirit of academic legitimacy, Michel did not include incidents that were merely mentioned in the comics, but not explained, in his data set. (Remember that mysterious “noodle incident”?)
Michel concludes with a half-horrifying, half-heartwarming note:
“If your little bundle of joy grows up to be a Tasmanian devil of terror, you can expect to pay almost two grand extra per year just in replacing or repairing items… In parenting, you have to take the bad with the good. With a kid like Calvin, it’s probably mostly bad. But even raising a Calvin has its good moments (like here), which are well worth the extra $1,850 a year.”
Alien: Isolation is a slow burn. Most Alien games have mimicked James Cameron’s action-packed Aliens sequel (often to disastrous effect, as with last year’s Alien: Colonial Marines), but Isolation is slavishly devoted to Ridley Scott’s quieter, more terrifying 1979 original, which informs nearly every aspect of the game. Set 15 years after the first film, Isolation follows engineer Amanda Ripley as she seeks information on her missing mother, Alien heroine Ellen Ripley.
Much like the film, the game takes its time to get going, allowing you to soak in the rich atmosphere. Developer Creative Assembly has painstakingly recreated the look and feel of Scott’s sci-fi classic, from the chunky CRT monitors to the green monochromatic display of the motion tracker that quickly becomes your best friend and lifeline. Just like the movie, you don’t meet the game’s single alien for the first hour, so soak up the gorgeous atmosphere while you can. Once the alien shows up, you’ll spend most of your time hiding in vents and lockers, praying it doesn’t hear you breathe.
Isolation plays like the world’s deadliest game of cat and mouse. The alien can’t be killed and will hunt you relentlessly, relying on its senses to track you down and pierce your skull with its retractable inner maw (amongst other gruesome finishers). Ostensibly a stealth game with horror trappings, your only chance at survival is to outwit the alien using items that Amanda can craft from scraps found throughout the environment. If the alien sees you, chances are you’re already dead, so it’s best to stick to the shadows and tread lightly, slowly working your way to your next objective.
Get used to seeing the motion tracker, as it will inhabit a large portion of your screen for a large portion of the time. (If I had a plasma TV, I would seriously worry about screen burn-in.) Seeing the alien blip on your radar for the first time is a terrifying experience, as you know it’s near but you can’t be sure where. I recommend playing in the dark with a pair of headphones, as the sound design is among the best I’ve ever experienced, and you’ll actually use audio cues like the staticy beep of the motion tracker or the clanging of vents to help make your way through levels. The developer has rightfully touted the alien’s artificial intelligence, which dynamically adjusts to your actions. If it sees something move or hears a noise, it’s going to investigate. (The Xbox One version has an option that uses the Kinect’s microphone, so if you scream in terror, the alien could hear you. Um, no thanks.)
Initially, this tense game of hide-and-seek is exhilarating—your heart pounds as you hide under a table, holding your breath as the alien’s long tail slithers by. You never feel safe, as running or firing a weapon will cause the alien to come darting out of a vent and instantly kill you. Expect to die—a lot. The game requires you to manually save your progress at save stations, which is almost unheard of nowadays. I get what Creative Assembly was going for with the save system: it’s a nod to old-school games that were actually difficult, and it requires you to think constantly about the risks involved. But because Amanda is so vulnerable and death comes so easily, it feels unnecessarily punitive. The first time you play twenty minutes without seeing any save points and then die right as you reach one is incredibly frustrating, since you then have to repeat the entire sequence over again. There are times when this will happen repeatedly, and it get significantly less fun each time the alien gets in your face and murders you.
Alien: Isolation is also a looooooong burn. And worse than how frustrating it can feel to constantly live, die and repeat, it becomes less and less scary the more you see the alien. Part of what makes the original Alien so terrifying is that you rarely see the monster, who is on screen for just over three and half minutes of the film’s two-hour runtime. With horror movies, what you don’t see is often scarier than what is shown, and while Isolation follows this to a point, the game is so damn long (clocking in around 15 to 20 hours) that you’ll have seen the alien for hours by the time it’s over. By the end, whenever I would encounter the alien, I’d simply yell, “Get away from her, you bitch” at the TV and shoo it away with my flamethrower. However much Creative Assembly strived to recreate Alien, it couldn’t keep it from getting a little Aliens in the end.
Far from the travesty that was Colonial Marines, there are hints of greatness in Alien: Isolation, which is by far the closest we’ve ever gotten to living out our Alien fantasies. But I wish Creative Assembly had realized that when it comes to horror, less is more. As mixed as my feelings are on the game, I’m actually still looking forward to the “Crew Expendable” downloadable content that reunites Sigourney Weaver and the cast of the original film for what I assume will be a much shorter experience, which could prove to be the optimal way to enjoy the game’s many strengths.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Andy Kaufman’s death—but his brother, Michael, is anticipating a much lower-key Andy Kaufman Award celebration on Oct. 12 than last year’s. In November 2013, Michael Kaufman introduced a young woman claiming to be Andy’s daughter, who revealed that her father was still alive, living a peaceful life as a stay-at-home dad. Some stubborn conspiracy theorists had always doubted Andy’s 1984 death, assuming it was part of some ultimate prank. Michael Kaufman initially seemed to endorse the young woman’s claims, but quickly backpedaled in news interviews and claimed that he had been the victim of a hoax.
Hoax or not, the Kaufman Lives movement is alive but increasingly unwell. On Oct. 7, Andy Kaufman’s longtime writing partner Bob Zmuda published a new book with Kaufman’s girlfriend, Lynne Margulies. Zmuda hinted further that Kaufman may have faked his death, while Margulies suggests that he was bisexual and died of AIDS, not cancer. READ FULL STORY
The wage gap is a problem, and Sarah Silverman is calling attention to it—with a “sex change.”
Silverman made a comedic video touting the Equal Payback Project, a crowd funding cause aimed to raise money for the National Women’s Law Center, a non-profit group designed to fight for equal pay through advocacy, education, and legislation.
People celebrated its 40th birthday with Taylor Swift.
Swift donned a retro look for the cover, in an homage to the magazine’s inaugural issue in 1974 featuring Mia Farrow during the promotion of The Great Gatsby. In the issue, Swift promotes her new album, “1989,” and tells the magazine about taking time to enjoy the single life and to just, well, shake it off. Guess she took Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s advice to heart.
People‘s 40th anniversary issue hits newsstands today.
Robert Downey Jr. took to Reddit for an AMA on Tuesday in anticipation of The Judge, which the actor called “the closest thing to a perfect film I’ve ever been part of” in response to a Reddit user.
In his AMA, the actor covered everything from his time as Iron Man, to upcoming film projects, to his favorite late-night snack. Here are the 11 most interesting answers, with full Downey Jr. charm intact.
Super Smash Bros. 3DS is out in the wild, but its release date had been known for several months before it released last Friday, Oct. 3. Its Wii U counterpart, however, has notoriously been waiting in limbo, with no planned release other than “Holiday 2014.”
In light of the handheld Smash Bros selling so well—it sold more than 2.8 million copies worldwide in its first weekend—Nintendo finally revealed when Wii U owners can expect the Nintendo brawler to debut.
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