Tastes Like Chicken

Wednesday, June 12, 2002


_An absolutely killer Transformer mpeg video
I wanna believe! Make a movie like this and I'll be the first geek in line.

_Spelunking Moscow
What's lurking beneath Moscow? These two fascinating articles will show you some of it, but are you sure you want to know?
"Imagine walking along endless corridors," recalls Mikhailov, "something dripping from the ceiling, the uneven light of torches. And all of sudden you find yourself in a room full of tanks of formalin, containing various sea monsters."

Recently, Mikhailov claims to have rediscovered an underground pond legendary since the eighteenth century as a site of mass suicides. Mikhailov, a devout Russian Orthodox Christian who takes great stock in omens, was thoroughly haunted by the place. "We all could tell something horrifying had happened there," he recalls. "The tension was palpable." The Diggers turned back from the site and never returned.

Under Bolshaya Pirogovskaya Street the Diggers discovered a deserted laboratory with an old telephone, chemical-protection suits hanging on the walls, and old-fashioned respiration masks. The room appeared to have been abandoned in a hurry. In adjacent rooms there were huge flasks, and the floor was covered with crystals.

Last year, Mikhailov and the Diggers stumbled upon 250 kilograms of radioactive material under Moscow State University, a discovery that seemed to shed light on the long anecdotal history of illness, hair loss, and infertility among the university's students and faculty.

Under the Skliffasovsky clinic the Diggers encountered people dressed in monk's robes, carrying torches around a strange-looking altar made of stone. They were performing some sort of service and singing. When they saw the Diggers, they hurriedly disappeared.

In a tunnel under the Centrobank building, the Diggers observed uniformed people in masks equipped with powerful halogen lamps. The Diggers were
afraid to follow them lest they should come under fire. So far, security services have not taken the Diggers' reports of these sightings seriously.
Only once have the police responded to a report by Mikhailov. Under the Leningradsky Prospekt the Diggers noticed a detachment of uniformed men at
work in a tunnel. The police sent two officers with machine guns to arrest the group, but all of them escaped. Upon investigating the site, the police found evidence of fresh digging. "Who these camouflaged people are," Mikhailov says, "I don't know.
Not everything under Moscow is flat-out scary, some of it is surreal, too:
The underworld is not all rubbish, rats, and dampness. Some accommodations are well equipped--with radio, television, and heat. People cook food and bring up children. In the morning, breadwinners leave their homes through manholes to make a living.
More resources:

The spelunker's own Russian-language site
An interview with their colorful leader (lots of stuff about bugs and weird fish)
At the bottom of this page is an article about Moscow's secret shadow subway drawn from the spelunker's findings.

Sunday, June 09, 2002
_Congratulations, Howard and Christine.
That was almost as perfect as you are for each other.

_Ethnic news 1: Jews In Space
So, how does one observe the sabbath when your "days" are 90 minutes long?

_Ethnic news 2: Kansas repeals law banning Asians from inheriting land
Still carrying similar laws: Florida and New Mexico.

_Hubba hubba
A little something for Thomas that is not safe for work but is definitely worth a look.

_Married to the metal
Bruce McCall satirizes writers loyalty to ancient manual typewriters.
A recent survey of the top 1,000 living English-language authors says that more than 80 percent own manual typewriters averaging 43 years in age and three broken functions, with a per-unit resale value of $4.75 and slipping. Yet in a questionnaire about their response if brigands should invade their homes and demand either their beat-up old manual typewriters or their spouses on pain of death, a whopping 96 percent wrote ''Spouse.''
Most shocking revelation of all: 4% of prominent writers apparently lack a sense of humor. That's OK, though, since McCall has Chuck Morass make up for the impaired:
''Authenticity is what I'm all about,'' echoes the sports icon. ''That's why I gave the guy who ghosted my best-selling autobiography specific orders to type every single word on a broken-down old manual. And I think it shows.''
Chuck's pretty funny, despite being a figment of Bruce McCall's imagination.


The camera pulls in close to the scientist. He's nervous, obviously up to something he shouldn't be. His face is lit up by the glow of the computer screen, flickering in unison with the display of information on the monitor.

After a few moments, explosions rock the facility, causing machinery to crash to the floor and sending boxes falling off shelves. Cut to: a red portal, with a number of ghostly skulls flying out of it. They rip through the installation's personnel, changing them into something …not quite human.

Elsewhere in the facility, you duck into a corner when a huge shadow suddenly envelopes the area. The creature attached to it is at least a few feet taller than you, and it's hard not to feel overwhelmed as it slowly lumbers by. You smartly choose not to fire your pistol as the creature passes, oblivious to your presence … for now.

This is DOOM III, and it's going to scare you to hell.
The jaded mainstream press on the Doom III:
Nothing at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) prepared spectators for Doom III, the latest first-person perspective shooter from id Software. The jump from Quake III to Doom III is no incremental jump; it is a revolution.
From an interview about some aspects of the tech:
Jan Paul: The bullet is a polygonal model right now in the physics engine, so the exact intersection and object collision with the box is calculated. The bullet is, of course, high velocity, and then the info is transferred to the box and the box starts moving.

GameSpy: So if you shoot the box in a couple of different places, the box would react differently each time, spin off to the side… ?

Jan Paul: Yep. It's the same thing with an enemy - if you shoot him in the shoulder, he starts spinning or turning backwards, or you shoot him in the legs, he flips over. Based on where you hit him, it will be a different simulation each time.

We've got everything in there - if you shoot a rocket through smoke, it'll swirl.
Awesome. It's enough to make you believe it when a Russian journalist says that parts of the game "had such a huge impact on audience that CNN girl sitting next to me almost passed out (no kidding)." This person also reveals that Id's fearsome new baby also handles huge outdoor settings, not just the claustrophobic corridors shown off so far.

Everything above comes from people watching and playing the game as presented at E3. Well, here's the kicker:
We actually screwed up at E3 -- we should have been running it at high quality settings (uncompressed textures, anisotropic filtering), but we were chasing some problems the first day, and it got set back to medium quality. The problems had gone away, so we left it that way, rather than risk changing it back.
The game wasn't even set to it's best visual level. Unfuckingbelievable.

ShakyCam video of the in-booth presentation (requires the latest DivX)
MP3 interview with Lead programmer John Carmack and audio designer Trent Reznor (yup, Nine Inch Nails)

Official E3 awards:
Best of show - DOOM3
Best PC game - DOOM3
Best action game - DOOM3
Special commendation for sound - DOOM3
Special commendation for graphics - DOOM3