Up until Saturday night, I had not watched a movie that came from the prolific Indian film industry. I was invited to a BBQ at a friend’s place and he suggested to the assembled crowd that we watch the highest grossing Indian film of all time. The movie, Enthiran, which translates to “robot”, was one of the most expensive Indian films to make and it took a better part of two years to produce. It’s also a sci-fi film, so how could we turn down my friend’s suggestion?

Enthiran is about a robotics scientist who creates a robot which is the most advanced version of his kind. It is basically a walking supercomputer. Because it is a robot, it can also perform amazing physical feats. It has the strength of several men and knows how to perform martial arts and dance (which comes in handy for an Indian movie). They name the robot Chitti and his only fault appears to be that he does not have feelings nor emotions. He also appears to have no distinction between good and bad.

The movie is typically Indian in that there are several dance numbers sprinkled liberally through the movie. Though the cast doesn’t just spontaneously break out into song and dance, the film does cut away abruptly to some weird set or location where the dancing and singing begin without pause. I found that a bit odd and jarring, perhaps it might have been better had they just stuck to the current location and just did the dance number there. For example, in one scene, two major characters were in a scene in what was clearly an Indian beach. Without warning or explanation, the movie cut to an outdoor location in Peru where they sang and danced. It was clearly Peru but the actual plot had nothing to do with Peru as the entire movie was set in India. I found that very strange.

For the most part, there were very few cultural references or sensibilities that I did not understand in the movie, except for one. In one scene, Chitti the robot rescues people in an apartment building that is engulfed in flames. He reaches the last trapped victim, a young woman who was taking a bath when the fire started. Naked, the young lady pleads with Chitti not to take her as she is without clothes. She says this even as the flames dance around the bathtub. Chitti ignores her and then cradles her in his arms and takes her to safety. She is left with the gathering crowd outside the burning building all the while still naked. The scientist severely scolds Chitti for taking the naked young woman from the building in her clothes-less condition. A jacket is quickly placed around her to provide her some dignity. It is too late though, as the gathering crowd and media makes the girl feel much shame. She then runs, nay flees the scene to escape her indignity. In doing so, she refuses to look both ways and darts into a busy road where she is promptly hit by a truck and killed. The robot’s creator and everyone else blame Chitti for killing her, ignoring the fact that no one else could have saved her from the fire. It was then that myself and everyone in the room discovered that in Indian culture, it would have been better had the young girl died in the fire than be brought out alive but naked. I did not know that they put such a high premium on decency and honour, to the point that if one had to choose between dying in a fire or public nudity, dying in the fire is socially the right thing to do.

The other thing I have to mention about this film is that the special effects range from pretty good to downright awful. The burning building I mentioned above was all done in CGI and it was very unrealistic. They had the entire building covered in flames so it was like this rectangular volume of flame. Fires in buildings don’t burn like that. Some of the later CGI scenes were a bit better but still not Hollywood quality. What was good was any SFX that involved cars. Whether or not the SFX made any sense from a logical standpoint is another question.

Overall, I thought it was a good learning experience and I felt my horizons were expanded. If you want to see the best “action” bits of Enthiran, watch the video above.


The above song, “Surrender” is from the band Cheap Trick. I was still a toddler when the single was released. It’s a great song and it has withstood the test of time. Whenever I hear it, I feel like I should be watching the names of some very talented people scrolling by.


It was just last week that I wrote a post about the loss of video gaming jobs in Vancouver with the closing of Propaganda Games and the layoffs affecting the EA Sports Active team in Burnaby. My sources now tell me that Relic Entertainment let go about a dozen people this week in a quiet move. There is some talk that several of those people were quite senior. I don’t have much more information beyond that. What I do know is that parent company THQ has their earnings call on February 2, which is coming up soon. It is a common strategy amongst companies to tidy up their business before facing the shareholders. With yet more developers joining the ranks of the unemployed, I wish everyone luck in the future.

On my way home this evening, I ran into a former co-worker from the Fight Night dev team. As many of you know, that was the last team on worked on before I was granted my wish of getting laid off from EA. There were very few things I enjoyed about being on that team but working with said former co-worker was indeed one of the rare highlights. Anyways, we had a short chat about things. He told me that Fight Night Champion is essentially done. He also divulged some personnel changes that occurred on the team. They were very interesting. I was also told that the Fight Night Champion wrap party would be happening Thursday evening. I have to admit, a part of me is a bit surprised I was not invited to the party. I worked on that game for six months in an area that was deemed fairly important feature-wise. While I wasn’t a trailblazer with my work, I did a fairly decent job. I was also the only person who was laid off on the team during the great EA fall purge of 2010, I wasn’t fired or anything. When I was on the skate team, we extended invitations to the wrap parties for everyone who worked on the game, even if they had been subsequently laid off or had come to the end of their temporary employment contracts. Once you worked on skate, you became part of the skate family, no matter what happened. I have known for a long time, however, that the closeness of the skate family is a rarity in the game development world and I should not expect other dev teams to be the same way.

On the other hand, I can totally understand why I wasn’t invited. By the end of my tenure on Fight Night, every single person who was important on that team, franchise DD, group DD, tech director, line producer, and my manager all knew I hated doing the stuff I was forced to do on the game. While I was still professional about my work, they all understood I was just dying on the inside to get out of this personal hell that I’d fallen into. So I can imagine when they were assembling the guest list, they probably thought I wouldn’t want to be even remotely close to anything that reminded me of that negative experience. Or they simply just didn’t want me there, which is their prerogative of course.

In any case, my ex-coworker believes the party is being held at the Earl’s in Yaletown, which coincidentally is right across the street from where I currently work. How convenient! Well, UFG is having their own celebration tomorrow as well. The company is treating all of us to a catered Chinese New Year buffet lunch. There is even going to be a whole roast pig for everyone to enjoy!


This week, Bodog, a popular online gambling site, revised their odds for all NHL teams on winning the Stanley Cup, hockey’s ultimate championship. What a surprise it was to see that the local professional ice hockey team in my city, the Vancouver Canucks were the odds on favourite to win the Cup. Bodog has the Canucks at 9/2 or having an approximately 18% chance of taking hockey’s greatest prize. I found the revisions to be absurd, at least for the Canucks.

Though the local team has done relatively well this season as we enter the half-way mark of the 2010-2011 campaign, there’s is a lot more hockey to played and then there’s the issue that the playoffs haven’t even begun yet. I know that Bodog must have kept in mind numerous stats and crunching many numbers before spitting out the odds, they neglected to keep in mind one thing, the Vancouver Canucks are the Vancouver Canucks. By that I mean, no matter what players play on the team, no matter what year it is, the Canucks always find a way to their own defeat. The huge exception to this is of course the team that went to the Cup finals in 1994. Every single player on that team holds a special place in my heart. To me, they didn’t beat themselves, they gave it their all and it was all that anyone could ask for them.

Enough reminiscing though, the odds are for the current incarnation of the team. I think the bookies have put way too much faith on how well the team has done in the regular season. Keep in mind this current collection of players has never gone back the second round of the playoffs. In the last several seasons, the Canucks exited the second round with a whimper, getting badly beaten in many of the key games. It would be slightly different if they put up a huge effort and lost in seven games but that didn’t happen. Despite some interesting player signing during the off-season, the core of the team remains the same. Now one could argue the same players have gotten more mature and are better players today but I’m not so sure that will make a difference in the playoffs. In the last seven games, the Canucks have cooled off considerably and in two of those games they were outright shutout from scoring. I know every team, even the elite ones, have their rough spots during the season but I’m just not feeling it from Vancouver.

In light of this, I’m trying to find a way to bet some money that the Canucks actually won’t win the Cup. I know that makes me sound like a terrible fan but the despite what the bookies think, they truthfully aren’t the real favourites to win the Cup. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love if they actually did triumph but realistically that’s not going to happen. So why not make some money off of something I know more about than the bookies do? If anyone call tell me how I can place like a reverse bet, you let me know.


So I just signed up to sponsor a child somewhere in the world that needs a bit of help. I know a lot of people do this and I thought it was about time I helped as well. The form I had to fill out was fairly straight-forward. It gave me preferences on which country, age group, and gender but I left it up to them. I am hoping they’ll put my dollars towards someone who needs it the most. Anyways, one of the dropdowns boxes was for my title, as in “Mr.” or “Mrs.”, and so forth. I swear I selected “Mr.” but when the form processed, I became “Mrs. Erwin Tang”, the newest sponsor of a child.

I guess it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but it would be a shame if my sponsor child thought I was a woman. Anyways, I e-mailed the organization to tell them of my silly error. I am hoping they correct it.


When I returned home Friday evening, I discovered a piece of mail on the floor near where my doormat is. The letter was opened so I initially thought it might have fallen off my kitchen counter. The distance was between where it had landed and where my counter is was a bit far, so I began to wonder. I looked at the letter again and I didn’t remember getting that piece of mail.

The letter was from a company that I buy financial products from and when I looked inside, it was an RRSP receipt. It was clear to me now that someone other than Canada Post had slid this letter underneath my door. I understand that in apartment living, people get other people’s mail all the time. I’m ok with that because that’s just the way it is. What I’m not ok with is the fact that someone opened up my letter when it was clearly not addressed to them. I look at the front of every piece of mail that’s addressed to me for two reasons. First, I want to know who sent me the mail so I can have any idea what I’m about to open. Second, I check who the mail is addressed to just in case it’s not actually for me.

I suppose there are people out there who just rip open everything that winds up in the mailbox without looking but I think that’s dumb, especially if you’re living in an apartment building. In this case, who ever looked at my mail now know how much I contributed to my RRSP for this one account. They also know my social insurance number as well which is probably the most troublesome thing in all of this. The odds are, nothing untoward will happen because of this but I just prefer my personal info not being discovered by my neighbours. At the very least, I would have appreciated a small note attached to the letter, “Sorry about opening your letter, it was an accident”. That would have been the right thing to do. I guess I should just be thankful I got the letter back in the first place.

What if my penis pump had been delivered to my neighbour by accident?


I’d like to introduce a phenomenon to you, my loyal readers, that you might not know about. It’s something that appeared on the Internet in the last few months and the name for it is “hover hands”. It’s a situation that usually involves a male who is posing for a picture with one or more females. Invariably, it’s readily apparent to everyone that the female is much more physically attractive than the male. Examples of such situations occur frequently at science fiction conventions where geeky males like myself pose for pictures with the female stars of their favourite shows.

Now that might seem innocent enough but the phenomenon manifests itself as the male is posing with the female. The male appears to have enough confidence to put his hand around the shoulder or waist of the female but at the very last second, he ultimately comes up short and does not make actual physical contact with the hand. The resulting awkward pose causes the male’s hand to “hover” just mere inches away from the attractive female but never making full contact with her skin or clothing. The classic example of a “hover hand” occurred when the lovely Summer Glau posed for pictures with fans during a convention in the summer of 2010 (no pun intended). If you click here, you can see examples of this.

I wonder what the thought process is for the male during a “hover hand”. I’m guessing that they understand that it’s a photo opportunity and it’s their chance to have a short, personal moment with someone they’re interested in. So they go in with the arm and the hand. I believe at this point that another part of their brain then kicks in. They realize that this female is more foxy than virtually any other female he’s been around in ages. That alone might prevent him from making full contact. He probably believes he’s not worthy enough to actually touch a girl that hot, even if it’s just a hand on the waist for a few seconds for a picture. I also think that some dudes are trying to not to be creepy. They’re probably trying to keep the young lady in mind and not touching her out of respect for her own personal boundaries. I suppose in that case, their heart is in the right place.

Unfortunately, whatever the reason, they wind up looking like a dork. Here’s my opinion on the whole thing. If you’re gonna do the whole arm around the girl thing, you gotta go all the way. Put your hand on her waist or her shoulder. It’s not like you’re grabbing her boob or anything. It’s also for a picture, which lasts less than ten seconds. If she doesn’t want you to touch her, she’ll tell you and if she does, it will probably be before the picture is taken, not during. If I had the chance to meet Ms. Glau for a picture, you can bet I wouldn’t stop my hand five picometers from her waist or shoulder. Now alternatively, if you don’t think you can comfortably touch the lady with your hand, then don’t go in with the arm at all. Now since it’s a picture, it kinda looks lame if you just keep your hands at your sides, so just doing something with your arms and hands. A good old standby is the old six-shooter hands. There are perfectly good ways to pose for a picture without having “hover” over the hot ladies around you.

Well, I hope you learned something today and if you’re interested in seeing many more “hover hand” pictures, click here.


Today was yet again another bump in the road for video game development in Vancouver. Though it was probably just coincidence and bad luck, it happened on two fronts. First, I heard that out in Burnaby, the EA Sports Active team got hit bad. I’m not sure the about specifics but apparently the plans for Active going forward have been either canceled outright or at the very least, been scaled back severely. I would guess the possibility of having an EA Sports Active 3 is almost non-existent at this point. I do know that the fallout of this was that about half the team was let go. How this breaks down into designers, artists, producers, and engineers is unknown to me. The rest of the team was assigned to various other teams within the Sports label. Two of my friends were on the Active team and they got placements elsewhere on other sports franchises. I suppose they were lucky.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the most extreme news was saved for Propaganda Games, who were outright closed up today by parent company, Disney. The writing was unfortunately on the wall when months earlier, Disney decided to cancel their Pirates of the Caribbean game which had been in development for years and millions of dollars. Oddly, the game was canned when it had received good press during previews and was likely just months from completion. That decision, among others, just added to the impression that Disney did not know how to make video games. The most unfortunate part of the studio closure was that I knew three people that lost their jobs today. I had worked with all three before and I would love to work with them again in the future. I know there was severance involved but I do not know if Disney was generous in that regard. In any case, I hope everyone lands on their feet soon, especially the one who just recently welcomed his first child into the world.

For the better part of two years, news like today’s seems to be all too commonplace. We all hope that each layoff or studio closure is that last for a long time but we haven’t gotten to that point yet. Will we ever get to that point?


Today I found out that another former skate team member has left EA and is returning to work for a games studio in downtown Vancouver. That’s two now in the last two weeks or so. Slowly but surely, we are coming back to where we are most comfortable. Unfortunately, we’re not all in the same place when we return, that’s the sucky part. The good news is, we all seem to be clustered in the same two block radius which makes lunching that much more awesome.

I dream of a day when most of us can assemble once again together and make another super duper game, one that involves bacon.


I think about a year ago, I made some vague promise that I might blog about some of my experiences from my undergrad years. The Internet was just in its infancy when I was in university and we didn’t have blogging back then. It’s interesting to think how much blogging I would do back then if you could blog. In any case, I hope you enjoy an anecdote from my early days at UBC.

So when I was doing my undergrad degree I lived in on-campus housing the entire. From my first year all the way to the last I lived in various university residences. This story is from my second year. I was still living in a junior residence complex but as a proud second-year student, I now had a whole room to myself and I didn’t have to share with anyone. No longer a meek first-year student, I was happy to see that many of my previous housemates on the first floor had returned.

Now there was a group of second-year boys on my floor that got along really well. There four of them: Eric, Colin, Maestro (that wasn’t his real name but everyone called him by his nickname), and, Alain. At least I think it was only four, my memory is turning to crap these days. Anyways, when you live in residence at university, it’s really easy to hang with your buddies. These guys all lived on the same floor. They ate meals together. They hung around together after class and during the evenings. They stayed up late into the night talking about whatever. These boys had a lot of time to just chill and get to know each other.

It wouldn’t be much of a story if all they did was just debate political theory but of course, there was much more to it than that. The boys were always looking to have a bit of fun. They were mischievous and at times their fun wasn’t the clean and wholesome kind. Now I was friendly with everyone in the group but I wasn’t part of the group so that meant that I wasn’t privy to all the things they did or said. Some of the details of this story have been pieced together but the major details are truthful. There ain’t no BS about any of this.

As it was told to me, the gang was gathered in Maestro’s room one night and who knows what the hell there were talking about. Now Maestro had these large glass jugs in his room that I believe contained juice. I’m not sure where he bought them but he had several sitting there on the floor. These jugs were about the size of a moonshine jug, maybe a tad larger. As I later learned the boys noticed that Maestro had an empty jug in his room and he had not thrown it out yet. To this day, I still don’t know the complete rationale behind this but I do know what happened. Someone decided that everyone in the room should urinate into the empty glass jug. Again, I wasn’t in the room when this was happening so I don’t have the specifics of why. What I do know is that several of the boys, possibly all of them, did indeed pee into the jug.

Now there were unconfirmed reports that decided to collect all that pee because they needed it to conduct some nefarious prank of some sort. This may or may not be true but I never did get the full details. My memory is unclear but I don’t remember the boys having too many enemies at the time, at least not to the extreme that pee pranks would be involved. The details of “why” are unimportant because of the incident that occurred shortly after the peeing into the jug.

I am uncertain how much time passed or how many more urinations were placed into the jug. What I do know is that sometime after the jug had been peed into, the jug was placed onto Maestro’s desk. Someone then accidentally caused the jug to fall off the desk and then onto the thinly carpeted dorm room floor. The impact was enough to cause the glass jug to shatter and the pee splashed onto the carpet and I suppose the surrounding items in the vicinity.

I believe I didn’t find out about this until several days after the fact. I am unclear on what measures Maestro went to in order to clean his room and carpet. This was never revealed to me but I can’t imagine what the immediate aftermath was like. In any case, I do remember going into Maestro’s room shortly afterwards and then getting a warning from him that I probably shouldn’t be standing there with my stocking feet. It was only after that visit did I learn about the pee explosion.

Well, I hope you enjoyed what I hope will be the first of many tales from undergrad. Hey, are you using that empty container there?