Tag Archives: Reviews

10,000 b.c.


For months now I have been excited to see 10,000 b.c.  History.  Action.  Adventure.  My type of film, really.  Like any good movie fan I dutifully donned my coat, gathered two friends, threw the Jeep in to 4 wheel-drive, and braved the snowy weather to watch it on Friday night.

The verdict?  It was decent.  I liked it.  I mean, it’s not 300 or Apocalypto, but not every movie can be that good.  10,000 b.c. borrowed the abs of 300 and the general story line from Apocalypto (members of the tribe are taken, lone warrior sets out to free his people) yet it threw in enough wooly mammoths and other extinct animals to set itself apart.  I also felt that the narrator could have been better.  Not really a sticking point but if your only job is to narrate a movie (and you are not acting in it) you better have a fantastic voice.  This fella did not.

My favorite part of 10,000 b.c. had nothing to do with the substance of the movie at all.  If you enjoy ancient history, as I do, then watching 10,000 b.c. can be a “Where’s Waldo?” of ancient civilizations.  Let me demonstrate.

The movie begins with a Native American like tribe living in the “white mountains” (Himalayas).  Bad people (modeled after the Mongol’s) come and take tribe members to use as slaves.  Our hero (a white man) along with a few others (an Indian man and an Asian boy…all from the same tribe mind you) set out over the white mountains to rescue their people.  After the mountains they end up in the rainforest (don’t even try stretching your mind on this geography…I’ll get to that in a moment) under constant attack from crazy giant-ostrich-dinosaurs(?).

Safely through the rainforest they find themselves in the African savannahA close brush with a saber-tooth tiger leads our heroes to a Maasai villageThey make friends and join forces with other tribes of the area, including the pygmies.  To continue pursuing the bad guys (who have escaped down a Nile like river) our hero and his army must now cross the Sahara desert.

After arriving in Giza(?) we see the construction of the Egyptian Pyramids (which were not constructed until 3,000 b.c.) morphed with Aztec and Incan temples by millions of slaves and trained wooly mammoths (?) for the hard stuff.  All of this construction is done to please the “almighty.”  A god who’s people were “swallowed by the sea.”  Finally, a reference to Atlantis!

The cultural potpourri is really quite ridiculous.  I couldn’t help but giggle many points throughout the film.  I mean, come on!  It’s just silly the way they threw concepts, races, architecture, etc. together.

As for the geographic discrepancies I mentioned I would tackle earlier…  I spent a good part of the film trying to orient myself on our fair planet.  We started in the “white mountains” with attacking Mongol’s so I reckoned we were in Asia.  Next, came the rainforest, which could have put us in India…except for the fact that next we entered the savannah of sub-Saharan Africa.  Then we moseyed on up to Egypt.

I’m fine with the white-mountains and the rainforest.  I’m even fine with the African savannah and Egypt.  I am not fine with them mushed together as a geographic plausibility.  I think I would have been less indignant and amused with the historical liberties taken if I would have been watching 10,000 b.c. on a Planet Similar to but Not Earth.

Now I feel bad for ragging on the film so much.  It wasn’t really that bad.  Go.  Take your friends and family to a matinee.  Be amused by the historical silliness and the groovy CGI beasts of years past.   Feed the box-office monster.  I did.

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How to View the Tudors

As an fan of history, I always enjoy a TV series or movie that attempts a portrayal of the past.  Particularly, if it is a time period I like, a historical figure I find interesting, or just a great story (Rome, Braveheart, Troy, Alexander, Dr. Zhivago, etc.)  In my mind, few things beat a good epic.

This fall brought a second film to complete the Elizabeth saga.  It was wonderful.  Cate Blanchette is Elizabeth I, at least to me.  Elizabeth is not only a great character, she has a great story.  Arguably the most powerful ruler of England, creator of the Church of England, and the last royal from the house of Tudor.  Stepping back to her parentage reveals King Henry VIII and his many wives.   Yet another great story.


Over winter break I spent some time ignoring the weather and watching Showtime’s new series, The Tudors.  It was no Rome, but it was good.  Quite good actually.  Jonathan Rhys Myers, who I extolled the virtues of in a previous post, is a tormented, powerful, manipulated, and believable Henry VIII.  The Tudor’s creator, Michael Hirst, is the same man who brought Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age to the silver screen.  His foray into the small screen is seamless.

This past Sunday I went to see, yet another, film that dealt with the Tudor family.  The Other Boleyn Girl is a different portrayal on the life of Henry VIII and his love affair with Anne Boleyn (Elizabeth I’s mother).  This time our Henry was Eric Banna.  As Henry he was adequate…I much preferred him as Hector in Troy.  Natalie Portman was Anne and her sister Mary (the “other” girl of the title) was played by Scarlett Johansson.  The entire cast was sort of fine in a rather unremarkable way.  Somewhat redeemingly, The Other Boleyn Girl is historically fascinating because it deals with lesser known (or recorded) details about the Boleyn’s life.  Essentially it makes a story out of hearsay and theory.


But what if you had to choose?  How do you view the Tudor’s?In my opinion the answer is quite simple.  Watch Showtime’s series.  The acting is better.  It’s sexier.  It is also ridiculously more in depth than The Other Boleyn Girl.  The film glosses over Cardinal Woolsely and the Duke of Norfolk, two key players in Henry’s reign.  So much of the story was lost in the film, it would be good if the movie was lost to your Netflix queue as well.The only area where the film outshines the series is in the portrayal of Queen Catherine (Henry’s first wife) and in the death of Anne Boleyn.   Showtime teases us that “heads will roll” in the soon coming second season of The Tudors, in the film Natalie Portman is beheaded without all of the pomp and circumstance.

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The Kite Runner


“There is a way to be good again, Amir jan.

This quote stands as beacon at the beginning of the film.  A clever hallmark to let you know that this film is going to take you somewhere.  Pick you up and move you.  Make you understand.  You have to follow Amir’s story: where his innocence was lost and the road he walked to find redemption.

When I sat down in the sold-out theatre I knew Amir’s story.  I read Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” this summer on a plane from Athens to New York.  I read the book in one day.  I felt painfully close to the story having just spent two months in the Middle East.  Life is different there.   Sometimes it feels so much more real than life here: more raw, less certain, but better in some ways.  Standing in a world so far from home almost forces you to really know who you are.  Amir felt this too.  When he revisited the land of his childhood, Afghanistan, you could actually see the change in him.  He was afraid and resolved.  He was better because he knew who he was, what he wanted, and what he had missed since he had been gone.

The film followed the letter of the book with lovely precision.  Nothing seemed omitted.   I was particularly impressed with the films capture of Kabul in the 1970’s, during Soviet occupation, and under the Taliban.  I also loved how they managed to capture the delicate art of kite flying and running.

This review is my shortest.  I think everyone should watch this film or read the book.  Maybe both.  You won’t be disappointed.  You will cry.  The story hurts in profound ways.  Unlike most sad films, you don’t leave sorry you watched.  The Kite Runner is a journey.  Amir takes you with him.  You see his past and his future.  You see his life.  And you come to understand that, “there is a way to be good again.”  No matter where you went wrong.

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Exam4 Reigns Over SecureExam – Top 10 List On Why

sxm vs. e4

Last year my law school used SecureExam for our finals. This year my new law school (as they were on SecureExam last year too) switched to Exam4 software. The following are my top ten reasons why law schools should choose Exam4 over SecureExam.

10. It was rediculously simple to load and use. Unlike SecureExam, where an entire sheet was required (front and back in 10 pt. font) on where to download and how to use, Exam4 installation and use was a breeze.

9. Microsoft Word is NOT required to use Exam4. SecureExam required Word even though it used NONE of the Word functionality (spell check, formatting, etc.). Exam4 used its own word processing program that DID allow formatting options.

8. The user interface was super attractive. …which is important for me since I am stressed.

7. Need a few reminders throughout the exam to let you know how your doing on time? Well Exam4 lets you set your own reminders if you want them. Groovy. Where was that feature SecureExam, huh?

6. Exam4 has options for both open and closed exams. If the exam is open it lets you have access to all of your files so you can use them. If you are taking a closed exam, Exam4 locks out all of your other programs turning your very nice computer into a glorified typewriter (with formatting options) for a couple of hours.

5. If you were a law school, which I know none of you are, and you used SecureExam you had to buy separate licenses for Mac’s and PC’s. That’s right. SecureExam hates on Apple (and we all know how I feel about that). Or, maybe your law school did what mine did last year and said, “Gee sorry Mac people. We think your commercials are funny too, but we won’t spend the money so that 20% of our law students can type their exams. Why don’t you just find another computer or hand write your 4 hour Civil Procedure exam? I mean we told you not to buy Mac’s, because computers are not a big purchase at all and we wouldn’t want you to buy a computer that you actually wanted. Sheez, its like you want the world or something.” Exam4 does not discriminate. Apple? Windows? XP? Vista? Sure, come on in. We’ve got just what you need.

4. Exam4 saves extra copies of your exam on your hard drive just in case something goes wrong. If the exam doesn’t submit you can just fire up the program again and choose any exam you have taken from a list and re-submit it. This is so nice. I think I saw the IT department at my law school last year perform open heart surgery on some computers in an attempt to not “lose” exams.

3. SecureExam must be in bed with Microsoft or something. I mean the REQUIREMENT of Word and the “extra charge” for Mac licenses. Boo.

2. Did I mention it’s pretty and way easy to use?

1. Finished your exam? Know how SecureExam made you save your exam on the required flash drive? Then you had to go out into the hallway and stand in a line of 50+ other law students to print out your exam. This all added to the stress because you know that all those other FREAKS were still talking about the exam, causing you to question EVERYTHING YOU WROTE. Yeah, well in Exam4 you just hit a happy little button that submits your exam electronically over the intranetz. The program shuts down and seems to say, “Hey! Sorry we had to torture you with the exam. Hopefully you enjoyed the formatting options…and we just went ahead and emailed the exam to your professor, so why don’t you just go grab a beer or something.” kthxbai Exam4. I heart you.

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Wired Magazine, TheFunded.com, and Ax’s to Grind



This month’s Wired Magazine (yes, I read and subscribe) had this great article on a fella and a site I knew nothing about. As usual, thanks to the great writing, I closed my magazine learning something new, useful, and interesting.

The story details the mastermind behind TheFunded.com, a guy who, until the publishing of this months article, was anonymous. An entrepreneur for many years, this man, unveiled as NYC resident Adeo Ressi (see photo below), faced many difficulties with the Venture Capitalists (henceforth VC’s) who funded his businesses. Taking his frustration, the Christmas holiday last year, and probably some egg-nog Ressi created the website/forum/blog TheFunded.com.

Initially to provide a way for himself and his close entrepreneurial friends to vent their frustrations with VC’s, TheFunded soon began booming into the 4,000+ member strong internet force it is today. Note that those 4000 members are the ones who passed the application process whereby only seasoned, serious, and legitimate entrepreneurs are accepted.

I think Ressi’s site is a great idea. It provides an anonymous platform for entrepreneurs, who work with VC’s all of the time, to voice their frustrations or extol the virtues of various VC’s groups.

“TheFunded is (not) exactly beloved by the venture capital community, which is more accustomed to CEOs kissing its butt than kicking its ass. …It may seem odd that venture capitalists should care what a gaggle of lowly entrepreneurs have to say about them. After all, for the past couple of decades VCs have been the kingmakers of Silicon Valley, rendering judgment on an endless stream of CEOs who beg and scrape for their approval. But in recent years, that dynamic has begun to shift.”


Apparently, but not surprisingly, the VC community is very angry at this website and its creator, because, in my opinion, it keeps them honest. Some VC’s were angry because the contributors to TheFunded said they were conceited or hard to work with and that it was a way for the peasants to revolt because they had ax’s to grind. It’s actually these inane responses that inspired me to write this post.

The VC community seems to be upset that there is finally a checks and balances system in the entrepreneurial world. CEO’s of emerging companies used to beg at the feet of their investors, grappling for whatever they were given. TheFunded has allowed a place for these CEO’s to go and share their experiences working with various VC’s. I’m sure some of them are conceited and hard to work with, but I’m equally sure that some are great as well. TheFunded is not limited to negative criticism, in fact, many folks go there to give positive reviews. Often times CEO’s shop for investors. It is important that they find and work with groups that they know are honest. TheFunded provides a lens from which VC firms can be evaluated by those who have worked with them before. It’s like an online list of references and reviews.

As far as ax’s to grind, which is what many VC firms feel the members of TheFunded are doing, I have to respectfully disagree. If someone does indeed have an “ax to grind” perhaps there is a very good reason for it. Rather than chocking off their issues as the unimportant rantings of an angry co-worker, why not listen to their words, find truth where it exists, and make any according changes.

I think that every industry would benefit from a resource like TheFunded. We all should be held accountable for our actions. If we want people to work with us then we need to have honest intentions and follow through on our word. Reviews by those who worked with us would provide an excellent tool for examining how others perceive our work and the experiences they had. Like a good film, one bad review is not going to kill it in the box office if that lone reviewer was wrong. So to here. Plus, how are we ever going to improve ourselves and our work unless we get honest feedback?

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August Rush


If you need a delightful, warm holiday film (and I know you do) then you need to don your mittens, coat, and scarf then skip on over to the movie theater to watch August Rush. I love this time of year because the cold weather and shorter days meet their match in the best films Hollywood has to offer. Now, now, I understand that the reason all of the “good” films are saved for this part of the year is primarily for the Oscars, but I don’t care. I love cinema. I dislike winter. Mix the best with the worst and you make many a winter day for me. I digress, back to August…

Freddie Highmore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Terrance Howard provide the best performances in the film. Remember when we all were wowed by Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense? Or, to a lesser degree (because I was never really on board with this one) by Dakota Fanning in I am Sam? Well I think Freddie Highmore has them all beat. What an fantastic child actor. As far as Mr. Meyers…I just like him. He’s got that adorable accent, black hair, blue eyes, and an on screen presence that makes you wish he was your big brother. Terrance Howard has also been a favorite of mine since he made me believe that it may indeed be “Hard out Here for a Pimp” in Hustle and Flow. The three of them together are a happy little dream team of make-you-feel-good. Robin Williams also gave a great performance, but he didn’t add any feel-good-ness so I omitted him from the list.

My only critique of the film (and my sister did not agree with me on this) was that I felt the ending was a bit abrupt. I was all right there with them, edge of my seat, fixing to cry, when the credits started to roll. Is it so wrong to have wanted a couple of more minutes? Ah, but maybe that is an indication of how great the film really was…I wanted more.

To not give anything (else) about the film away (and no you do not know the “whole story” simply from watching the preview), I will end my review with a simple charge: go see August Rush. The music is really incredible (soundtrack has been added to that dreaded Christmas List my mother insists on me compiling), the acting is superb, and who doesn’t want to feel all warm inside for a couple of hours in order to escape the freezing temperatures and gray skies? I thought so. Remember, coat, mittens, scarf, August Rush.

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Battlestar Galactica Razor – A Welcome Respite from a Blah Sci-Fi Fall


Wow. Thank you Sci-Fi Channel, I really missed my show. In fact, I didn’t know how very much I missed it until I fired up my DVR late Saturday night, after many grueling hours of work, and thought I would watch a few minutes of Razor before I went to bed. Two hours later I turned off my TV and just relished in the knowledge that TV can be really, really great sometimes.

After an ok 3rd season (save the final episode) of Battlestar Galactica, a rather boring Heroes opening run (fingers crossed it’s getting better), the black hole left by Stargate SG-1’s absence, and a fairly pleasant Stargate Atlantis season (yet I am still lamenting Dr. Weir’s hasty departure to make room for Col. Carter) Sci-fi TV was a little less than it usually is. My faith in my favorite genre was restored after watching Razor.


A Bit About It: The story focuses on what happened to the Battlestar Pegasus at the beginning of the second Cylon war. We also learn what helped to make Admiral Cain the ruthless woman we met in season 2. Also, some groovy back story about Commander Adama Jr.’s stint on Pegasus, how the Cylon’s learned to make “skin-jobs”, and a bit more unsettling news about Starbuck’s “special destiny.”

What Surprised Me: (1) We got to meet the Cylon’s God. That was pretty cool, and I wasn’t expecting it at all. Sure he was a creepy old looking fella in a tub full of goo hooked up to a bunch of wires, but he is their God. I have always loved the dichotomy of the monotheistic Cylon’s and the polytheistic humans. It has allowed for some of the best culture critique from a show that excels at just that.

(2) Admiral Cain and a copy of Cylon Number 6 were “together.” Cool. It’s not like this really surprised me, per se, I mean Cain’s character definitely gave off the I-don’t-sleep-with-men vibe (as do some other BSG characters, namely Starbuck) but this time the writers and directors acknowledged the relationship. So what if it ended in betrayal, violence, and death. It was there, and a bit more honest and thought out than the Baltar/6/D’Anna triangle.

(3) Cylon God says beware of Starbuck. Yipe! I really like Starbuck, but to be honest, her “special destiny” freaks me out. Is she leading the human race to their demise? Or, was the Cylon God only saying that to instill doubt in the one person who can save humanity? I don’t know. Special destiny, though…it just sounds shifty.


The Good: Admiral Cain is a great character. I know she “died” in season two (killed by her former lover, Number 6), but it was great to see her back in action for this glimpse into Battlestar Pegasus past. She was ruthless, gritty, mean, and…well a cool character. I like her, because, though she is scary, she is a predictable scary. You make Cain mad, she shoots you in the head. Laura Roslyn is a whole other world of creepy. I adore her character, but the woman is evil and soooooo spooky. *shakes in boots Make her mad and live in fear that your next breath may or may not be your last. That and I think she is the final Cylon.

The Bad: You give me more Cain and then you taketh away. *tear Also, the introduction and subsequent dismissal of another groovy character, Major Kendra Shaw, was sad. I liked her. Too bad she adhered to Cain’s self-sacrifice/follow-orders/compete-the-mission motto, I should think I would have really enjoyed more of her. She had great chemistry with Starbuck…yin and yang of sorts.

The Lingering Questions: (1) Do the Cylon’s know that “God” is dead? More importantly, do they care and does it matter? Just in case, I would not recommend being in the room when D’Anna is un-boxed and finds out this new bit of info. She was really jonesing on the God thing, she also knows who the remaining Cylon is, and she’s a little scary. Of course, anyone who repeatedly terminates themselves in order to catch glimpses of the “truth” is frightening…not to mention tough as nails.

(2) Will Starbuck frak everything up, or save humanity?

(3) Ah yeah, why do I now have to wait until March 2008 to watch season 4 Sci-Fi Channel? Last I heard it was January 2008. Don’t toy with my emotions like that.



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Lucy Lawless-ness in Chicago

lucy1A few weeks ago I got to see Lucy Lawless in concert in Chicago. I know, I know. You are probably thinking in your mind what all the folks I told thought out loud… “Xena? The warrior princess? She sings?” After a “yes x 3” I gave them a look that conveyed, “Obviously you did not watch Celebrity Duets last fall, nor have you seen seasons 1, 3, or 5 of Xena, but whatever. We can still be friends.”

The rather confusing on-line ticket ordering system through Creation Entertainment went off line a week before the show (troublesome for late-planning law students like myself who do not schedule too far in advance). Accepting the gamble of maybe getting tickets at the door I found myself in Chicago in unseasonably warm weather (the very same warm weather that canceled the Chicago Marathon the next day).

Arriving at the venue, Buddy Guy’s Lounge, I found a very long line of Xena fans and convention goers (also taking place that weekend) patiently waiting to enter the venue. Near the back of the line, wondering if tickets were still available, I got to listen to some very interesting conversation regarding the complexities of the Ares/Xena relationship in the series and had my photo taken by Steven Sears, one of the writers on Xena. Mr. Sears was wandering around the line taking photos of people and when asked who he was he replied with a chuckle, “oh just a photo nut!”

**This is where I must pause and again say how much fun it would be to work on Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV. Writers and performers super supportive of each others work, happily chatting with fans and snapping pic’s all the while sporting a fetching Indiana Jones hat. It is so fantastic! They make me want to ask a question I rarely feel moved to ask: how do you get to do what you do? Your job is so cool!**

After getting my ticket (without any trouble), and learning the very intricate rules of Buddy Guy Lounge audience formation (which mostly involved a large man yelling, “Stay within the lines!” every now and again…yes, the lines were painted on the floor) I really enjoyed the show.

In a cabaret style Debbie Reynolds would have been proud of, Lucy put on a great show for the 200-ish audience members. Complete with costume changes. My concert companion mentioned that the second outfit resembled a lampshade (lots of fringe etc.). Though initially moved to agree, I think the little number was fabulous and more reminiscent of Cher’s Bob Mackie gowns than a light covering. I’m sure the jury is still out on that one…but you be the judge. See below.


My favorite numbers were “Delta Dawn” (were Lucy said she was going to take us to “chech”…that’s “church” with a New Zealand accent) and “People Got to be Free” (I really enjoyed the shout out to “lyre, lyre”). It was also really cool to see Joseph LoDuca (composer for Xena, Hercules, and the Evil Dead films) as the lead guitarist and band leader.

The show was a lot of fun. The audience was having a great time, and so was Lucy. It was definitely worth the trip up to Chicago. Those who know me know that I love a good story. How much fun is it to answer “What did you do this weekend?” with “Oh, I went to see Lucy Lawless in concert.” And now we’ve come full circle, because they all asked the same questions. Yes x 3: (1) Xena (2) the warrior princess (3) sings.

Oh, and if anyone knows: who is Chuy Vasquez? Clever alias? or, am I totally missing some pop culture reference?

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“Alexander Revisited” Perfects the Epic


Do you remember watching “Alexander” when it first came out in the theater’s in 2004? Eh, me either. I knew I went to see it somewhere around the time I saw “Troy”, but I don’t really recall much at all from my first viewing. “Alexander Revisited – The Final Cut”, released in August 2007, changed my opinion of this great film. The rather unremarkable theatrical version is completely out shown by “The Final Cut.”

As director Oliver Stone wrote in the DVD booklet, he felt unsettled by the theatrical release and chose to revisit the film not once, but twice (a director’s cut was released in 2005) to perfect his telling of Macedon’s greatest leader.

“The Final Cut” requires a bit of a time commitment, with over a 3 1/2 hr. running time, but is well worth it in the end. There is even an intermission after the second hour where you can digest what you have seen, change positions on the sofa, put in disk 2, and prepare yourself for the last hour and a half of Alexander’s life (at least in the film). Intermission comes at a natural point in the story telling, right before Alexander marches his army into India, so there is no awkward break. I also find it sort of nice to watch a modern film emulate the epic films of the 1950’s and 60’s by taking a well deserved pause in the middle.

Normally I do not like films that communicate their story in a disjointed, non-sequential fashion, but Oliver Stone weaves the story in such a way that I did not mind seeing young Alexander in the middle of film, nor Alex’s death in the opening scene. Narrated by Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins), the first time we see Alexander he is leading his army into the Battle of Gaugemela. His cunning and masterful battle strategy award him control over the coveted Persian empire, but also shows his near insane lust for conquering all in the East. These scenes of Alexander at the height of his glory are interwoven with supplemental stories from his youth and young adult life, to spin a complete, complex, and rich tale.

The performances by Colin Farrel, Jared Leto, Angelina Jolie, and Val Kilmer are superb. Cinematography and costumes were beautiful. As fantastic as these were “Alexander” truly shines in the brilliant score composed by native Greek, Vangelis (best known for composing “Chariots of Fire”). I can say with absolute honesty that “Alexander” is my favorite movie score of all time. The only thing I would have done differently than Mr. Stone to perfect this epic would be to have made more use of the score, especially the piece “Titans.” It is just incredible music!

In summation, if you have not seen “Alexander” yet, watch this version. If you saw it in the theater’s and found it average, watch this version. “Alexander Revisited – The Final Cut” is a film worthy of it’s great namesake.

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Galactic Domination

I’m bent on galactic domination and you should be too. That is if you are looking for a groovy free game that allows you to build up an empire, colonize neighboring worlds, and not waste away your time doing it. I can write my moot court brief while building mines, solar panels, and other goodies that will be the foundation of my empire. Cool.

Check it out at OGame.org.

Welcome to Taneth. Just like the Tau’ri, Tanethosians will destroy all mean galactic dominators (think Goa’uld and Wraith) and become the sworn protectors of Universe 26. **Again, none of this inhibits law school-ness at all. It’s a game for the megalomaniac in us all.

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