DID YOU READ

Hands-On: Experiencing Michael Jackson on the Wii

Hands-On: Experiencing Michael Jackson on the Wii (photo)

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While they’re perpetuating popular hardcore franchises like “Splinter Cell” and “Assassins’ Creed” on the Xbox 360 and PS3, Ubisoft’s quietly established a successful micro-niche of choreography dance games on the Wii. “Just Dance”–the first of these games–emerged as a best-seller when it came out last year and followed by “Dance on Broadway” this year, which gave players the chance to do routines from classic musicals “Guys & Dolls” and “Hair.” Now those titles are being joined by “Michael Jackson The Experience.”

The game lets players dance (and sing, in the PS3 and Xbox versions) to the late superstar’s choreography. I had a chance to check out the Wii version of “MJTE,” the baby brother of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 offerings. Those games have been delayed, leaving the Wii game the only one still scheduled to arrive this holiday. (There’s also a handheld version on the Nintendo DS, which plays very similarly to the 2006 hit “Elite Beat Agents”.) The Microsoft and Sony versions of the MJ game use those companies’ Kinect and Playstation Move motion gaming hardware, while “MJ” Wii uses the standard remote. In each case, your movements are tracked to see where they match up with the on-screen movements, Where “Just Dance” and “Dance on Broadway ” have gentler interpretations of playable footwork, the Micheal Jackson game takes none of the complexity away from the Gloved One’s moves.

The King of Pop gets a weird, slightly fantastic visual interpretation in the video game memorial. There’s no other way to put than to say that he doesn’t quite have a face. In some songs, he’s the Afro-sporting, bell bottoms-rocking dancing machine of the J5 years, only slightly grown up. In others, his skin color’s the light-skinned beige of his later years. In none of them does he have a nose (any of his noses) or a mouth. Ubisoft says that this decision is meant to let players more easily think of themselves as Michael Jackson, but it has the odd effect of only reminding you just how bizarre he wound up looking before he died.

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Still, one cool corollary to making Jackson’s discography playable is that Ubisoft’s made videos for songs that never had them. The Afro MJ that I mention above was dancing through “Workin’ Day and Night,” from the 1978 album “Off The Wall” Never mind that MJ had aged out of the J5 attire by the time the album was released, the creative license here offered by the game in these instances is still fascinating. In such cases, the steps in the game’s new music videos have been created with the help of choreographers who worked with Jackson.

As far as the music itself, six tracks have been announced already. Nothing further on the track listing or whether there will be downloadable content for the game has been made public. Here’s what out there so far:

• Bad
• Beat It
• Billie Jean
• Black or White
• Earth Song
• Smooth Criminal
• The Girl Is Mine
• They Don’t Care About Us
• Who Is It
• Workin’ Day And Night

If you’re in New York City this weekend, you’ll be able to try out these songs this weekend at New York Comic-Con. Look for Ubisoft at booth #1617 at the Jacob Javits Center. The Wii version of “Michael Jackson The Experience” will be in stores on November 23rd and the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions should be out early next year.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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