Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Why Your Child Shouldn't Go to School in Texas

At first I thought this was really funny, because at first glance it seemed it was a mis-phoneme of "educate." Now I realize that it might indeed be a proclamation that, sadly, Ed is a cat. Which while strange, is significantly less funny, and let's face it: driving cats has been done before.

The House That Steve Built

I've put this off long enough. Ten years, in fact. So as motivation to make sure it happens, I give you my New Year's Resolution:

To get a swimmer's build in as short a time as humanly possible.

I initially figured "lose 20 pounds in three months," but that might not be enough. Saying "losing 40 pounds in three months" is probably not an attainable goal, and I'm not sure if I can weigh less than 180 lbs without losing muscle tissue to achieve it. I've tried a lot of stupid "diets" and pills, and the truth is, that unless I'm exercising almost daily, nothing is really going to work.

So starting tomorrow, I'm hitting the pool. Every day. Or at least every possible chance I can. I'm not even that strong of a swimmer (at least technically speaking), but I like the way swimmers look, and it's phenomenal exercise. I spent the last ten years attempting to find myself mentally, and in doing so, I let the body go. Big time. I look nothing like I did ten or twelve years ago, and sometimes I don't even recognize my face in the mirror. It's not a matter of age; it's a matter of sloth. If I'm going to learn anything from the Buddhist philosophies and teachings, I need to make sure that the body is just as in shape as the mind. There's no point in putting a great driver in an 82 Chevette.

Wish me luck.

Friday, December 27, 2002

I'm Dreaming...

...of a white Christmas.

Unlike the ones I used to know, we got snow on the 24th this year. I imagine it was truly magical and wonderful for a lot of kids on the big night.

It went surprisingly well this year, despite the brothers-in-law showing up three hours late to the in-law's Xmas dinner, and only getting to see them for an hour and a half, and Liz having to work on Xmas Eve for a half day.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some games to play. Splinter Cell is proving about as frustrating as Tomb Raider's controls, and I have yet to break the seal on the new Metroid: Prime (also, the new Metroid: Fusion). I can't wait!

Monday, December 23, 2002

Rawk Star

I got a new haircut. For the first time in years, I'm finally really happy with the stylist.

As if it were a Quinn Martin Production, it's even in color.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Thunderdome. Sans Tunder. Or Dome.

In an effort to hopefully catch another American Gladiators type show, I made the mistake of watching The New TNN's Thunderdome last night. Anyone bother to catch this piece of crap yet? It's on late (midnight, one am?) on The New TNN. There's a reason why it's on at midnight: people are either too drunk or too asleep to notice just how bad it is. Surprisingly, it's not even listed on The New TNN's website.

I figured something was up when the women with the large boobs in the bikinis started talking. Then the words that were coming out of their mouths started sounding a lot like "I really like to race," and "nothing compares to the feeling when I'm in control of a car that's moving so fast." I've seen professional female athletes, and unless it's college volleyball or tennis, they're usually not...how would you say...supermodels. The pretty girls tend to realize that crashing cars and taking hits has a tendency to ruin the manicure they just paid eighty bucks for.

Then the pre-race interviews happened. Can you say wrestling? Because that's exactly how fake it was. If I wanted bad actors yelling at each other, I'd go watch wrestling. Or porn. I'm not going to watch TNN ruin what is a very real sport by having women with fake tits and bad actors with shaved heads lose thier very not real temper when the idiot with the mic asks them a loaded question about their "competitor." Let's review the fouls, shall we?

1). Having the actors put on their helmets and drive off camera in one shot, and then having two stunt doubles in the next shot wearing completely different gear tends to show your hand. And really, next time, hire female stunt drivers to act in place of the large breasted, wide hipped actresses. It's just a bit obvious when it's a guy with a wig on under the helmet, guys.

2). Paintball on motorcycle side-cars doesn't work. Maybe the general public doesn't know this, but you can't give guys a paintball gun with a see through ammo hopper with no ammo in it and expect to fool me into thinking he's actually shooting at the other guys. Besides the obvious lack of ammo problem, there weren't any paintballs flying through the air. They only move at 298 fps, which is about five times slower than a bullet. So yes, you can see them. Also, if someone had 100 hits on them, as you purported in your "stats" at the end of the race, they would appear as if someone had poured a slimy bucket of paint on them. Having a guy with only three red paint splats on them even though the tally said 100 makes you a dumb, sad liar. Oh, and while we're at it, no one manufactures red paintballs. For obvious reasons, the sport of paintball makes painstaking efforts to not be mistaken as a firearm firing bullets. Thus, no company has ever made a red paintball. EVER. Furthermore, having the guy point the gun at the other motorcycle, and adding sound fx of a paintball gun firing doesn't work, either. Paintball guns release a small puffy cloud of CO2 (at least when you're using CO2 cannisters, as the show was) when they fire. It's like a muzzle flash, only it's a puff of gas. And your guns didn't have them. But wait, there's more! When you had the interviewer who wasn't wearing eye protection get "shot" by having blood squibs go off underneath his shirt, you broke every rule there is worth having regarding paintball safety. You don't even pretend to fire a weapon at someone who isn't wearing eye protection. In fact, if you would have even consulted one person who played paintball, they would have told you that no one is allowed anywhere near live paintball guns without eye protection. It just isn't done. Plus, those squibs were painfully obvious. But enough about the fake paintball already.

3). People who know how to drive cars fast don't wear heels with exposed toes. They just don't. So don't bother showing women who have no business lying about what good drivers they aren't getting in the BMW Z3 which they don't really own wearing shoes that no race car driver would ever wear.

4) Look, I know you're desperately trying to come off as a "sports entertainment" type show, but could you have found a color commentator who didn't want to be Jesse "The Body" Ventura so badly?

5). I can appreciate your attempt at making different characters, but when your Mad Max guy is wearing armor which has rubber tire treads stapled on top of the football pads he's wearing, I start to nitpick. When I find the metal grille from a PC coolant fan dead center on the front, I start to laugh. Hard. Was this show supposed to be a comedy?

I don't even know why this stupid show is called Thunderdome. If they're going for the "Mad Max" angle, why didn't they call it Roadwarrior. There's no Thunderdome in this show. There's not even a dome. No Bordertown. No Master Blaster. No nothing.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

The Haircut That Wasn't

Lunchtime. Company Christmas Party T-Minus 7 hours. Hair needs cutting.

The Scene: Fantastic Sam's that has been raved about by one of my fellow co-workers. Our hero enters and walks up to the counter. An older female hairstylist walks up to the counter to greet our hero. It becomes immediately obvious that she has a thick Eastern European accent. Possibly Russian.

Hairstylist: Hallo, kan eye 'elp you?

Our hero is perplexed. This is a hairstyling salon thing, right? What else would he be here for?

Me: Uhhhh....yeah. I'd like a haircut, please?
Stylist: Fone numbar?

Our hero already smells disaster in the making. He's in Chicago, so if he gives out his phone number without the area code, there is the slight possibility that someone else, since we're now in a different area code, might be registered here under the same number. So he starts with the area code first...

Me: ::sighs:: Six three oh...
Stylist: ::looking down, pushing keys on computer keyboard:: Seex...tharee...zeeroh... ::looks up expectantly::
Me: Eight nine eight.
Stylist: ::looking down again:: Ate...nein...aaaaaa...you say ate?
Me: Yes, eight nine eight.
Stylist: Ate....nein......nein?
Me: No, eight nine eight.
Stylist: Ate...nine.....ate
Me: Four seven three four*
Sylist: Ohhh! You giv aireeah kode furst! No aireeah kode. Just numbar. Leht sdart aygain.

Our hero shows true patience, and doesn't just tell her to screw the phone number, because he knows that's how these cheap hair cutting places keep track of their clients. He steels himself for another volley of stupidity.

Me: Eight nine eight.
Styleest: Ate...nein...you say ate, rite?
Me: Eight nine eight.
Styleest: Ate...nein... ::looks up at me expectantly::
Me: Eight nine eight.
Styleest: Ate...seex?
Me: Eight nine eight.
Styleest: Okay. You giv name now.
Me: Piotr.

I then sat in a chair waiting my turn for a haircut, when I noticed that Rooskie the Numbar Boochar was cutting a guy's hair, and nearly finished, while the other two women were either in the process of doing a dye job on a girl or starting a perm on another woman.

Odds of getting a woman who couldn't even take my phone number: high. Odds same woman would be able to understand my instructions on how I'd like my hair cut: only slightly better than winning the lottery.

So I did the math and simply got up and walked out.

Disaster averted.

* No, that isn't my real phone number.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Lamest. Bus. Ever.

The website listed below the logo says: www.golamers.com. I haven't heard such a stupid and/or funny slogan since the guy in my 9th grade gym class with the 86 I.Q. came up with the cheer for a fantasy team called The Nads: "go nads!"

Who would name their bus company Lamers? It's like calling yourself The Cripples or Flat Tire Busses, Inc.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Bah Humbug

I was reading Lileks today, and he got me thinking about Christmas Specials. More specifically, about ones that I don't like.

Even more to the point: A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I used to love it when I was a kid, and hell, who didn't. But recently I found it almost downright repugnant. Not only is the animation bottom shelf quality, and the message of "over-commercialization" is just a lot too 60's for my taste, but why doesn't Charlie Brown just kick them in the teeth when they laugh at him?

I'm watching this special, and I'm seeing all of these other kids slack off and just do the damn jive-turkey* instead of actually participating in a Christmas play, and they lecture him when they screw up? Holy mother of god, there would be some boots pressed to some necks if that stupid kid had a backbone in his body.

At any rate, here's some other Christmas Specials/Movies I highly recommend viewing instead of the poorly paced, badly directed, and blindly animated Charlie Brown one:

The Nightmare Before Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Patrick Stewart's A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Story
It's a Wonderful Life

On the other hand, there are two "B" List Contenders which I feel herald the onset of Christmas itself. It's just not Christmas if I miss these two (which I think I did this year):

Frosty the Snowman
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer

* Yes, I realize that by using the term "jive-turkey," I've just made myself sound as if I were 80 years old.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Merry Crimmas to Me...

And to all of you.

I bought myself a new phone today. It has this camera thing built in (as in not an attachment).

Expect many, many more pictures to come.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Lissie Doll

So I saw Matilda for the first time all the way through last night. For those of you unfamiliar with the title, it's a movie adaptation of a Roald Dahl* book by the same name.

The first Roald Dahl book I read was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, after I saw the movie Willie Wonka. This started my short lived love-affair with books, as I voraciously poured through Dahl volume after Dahl volume: Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, James and the Giant Peach, and my favorite: his work of short stories. I never did read Matilda, unfortunately.

But what always struck me about him were the dedications in his books. They always seemed to be touching and not just a throwaway "For so-and-so" type dedications.

In the movie Matilda, there's a doll that Miss Honey (Matilda's mentor and teacher) is longing for that she hasn't had since she was Matilda's age, and it's named "Lissie Doll". The doll is loved and cherished by Miss Honey, and it becomes a bit of a plot point in the story. Upon watching the credits (something I do at the end of every movie, good or bad), I noticed that the name of one of the Producers on the film:

Lissie Dahl.

Very nicely done, Mr. Dahl. You gave your daughter (presumably) something to cherish for a lifetime, even in your absence.

* I had no earthly idea that Roald Dahl had so many film and TV credits (or book credits for that matter, either). I was under the presumtion that he made a handful of amazing children's works that were later translated to the large screen. I couldn't be more wrong.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

IQ Redeux

Well, after reading a comment by a reader, I decided to see if the Emode IQ Test was indeed rigged (it's not, but it is heavily weighted to score a 129, though, since literally everyone [all 4 people including me] who's gotten back to me on it has scored a 129). I randomly answered questions, and mainly tried to make sure I was providing the wrong answers for the vast majority of the questions, and occasionally I'd make sure to get a question or two right.

What happened is that I scored an 86.

I checked another site's IQ test results, and they had the following to say about IQ test scores:

100 = Average
120 = Level typically required to complete undergraduate degree
140 = Definitely genius status
150 = Less than 1/2 of 1% of people who complete IQ tests achieve this score or higher.

So, if we can assume that a score of 100 is a High School Graduate's level of education (average), then I think it's safe to assume that an IQ of 86 would qualify someone for, say, a person who didn't even pass the 8th grade. This being the case, I'd like to know how Emode thinks that someone who didn't even finish High School with an IQ of 86 qualifies for the following:

We compared your answers with others who have taken the test, and according to the sorts of questions you got correct, we can tell your Intellectual Type is a Word Warrior.

Looking at the score, I can only assume that by Word Warrior they mean someone who has to fight to find the right words, such as those found in the complex sentence, "See Jane run."

The first thing we can tell you about that is you are equipped with a verbal arsenal that enables you to understand complex issues and communicate on a particularly high level. But that's just scratching the surface.

If by "enables you to understand complex issues and communicate on a particularly high level" they really mean "allowing you to successfully Biggie-Size your Wendy's order at the drive through," or if by "scratching the surface," they mean "you're some sort of freakish idiot savant who can repeat the entire unabridged Merriam-Webster dictionary and nothing else while you drool into your breakfast cereal," I'd take some credence in that assertation.

But as it stands, I feel somewhat intellectually violated for allowing myself to take mental purchase in Emode's "conclusion" that I was a "Visionary Philosopher."

Coolest Motion Shoot in the History of Man

Today I directed the Motion Capture shoot for the DJ who is providing the music for our game: DJ Rocky Rock. I've never seen a DJ perform close enough that I could see his hands moving on the wax and the fader, and to tell the truth, it's not like getting to watch Rocky this close helped me much. I fooled around with the turntables for exactly 8.5 seconds, and realized quickly that I probably sounded a lot like anyone does sitting at a drum kit for the first time: a complete loser with two left hands.

Seeing people as skilled as Rocky at any skill (painting, DJing, skateboarding, etc.) makes me want to take up whatever it is that they're doing and hope to hold a candle to their coolness. So, suffice to say I'm now considering buying turntables doing nothing of the sort.

At any rate, I managed to remember that we had a digital camera handy for taking reference photos while he was playing through his set for us before he put on the motion capture suit (which looks silly, so I won't post any pictures of him in the suit send me $500 if you're reading this Rocky and I'll destroy them ;).

Tuesday, December 10, 2002


I just got done taking yet another IQ test, and I keep getting dumber. That is to say, the number of questions in the body of the test keep getting smaller in quantity - this time only forty - so for each question I get wrong, it makes me dumber than it did if, say, there were 100 questions on the test. So when there were 100 questions, I scored a brilliant 156, and now that there are only 40, I scored a mere average 129.

Only minutes later, I got my very first cel phone solicitation call. Granted, the nice automated man on the other end insisted that this was neither a sales nor solicitation call, and that this was indeed a "very important phone call," and I was asked very nicely to not hang up.

However, factoring in that most, if not nearly all important phone calls are made by real people, and not auto-dialing recordings of human voices, I deduced that this was not in fact an important phone call, and summarily hung up.

See? I'm no dummy.

Free Book

Every once in awhile for the past year or so, I cruise by John Scalzi's Whatever column, just to see what's up. Some days I really dig what he writes, and other days things get too political or dry or whatever it is that I don't agree with for whatever lame reason. But none of that matters to you good folk. What does matter is that I just swung by yesterday for the first time in probably weeks, and I couldn't have been happier.

Because for the next month he's publishing his book Old Man's War for free, one chapter at a time. It's a little sci-fi diddy, and so far I've really enjoyed the first two chapters. Evidently it's about a future society on Earth who go volunteer for the Colony Defense Force (or whatever it's called) for a variety of reasons when they turn 75, because only the CDF has the technology to pretty much reverse the aging process.

Why is he publishing it for free, you say? Well, he has his reasons, so you can go read them for yourselves.

At any rate, do yourselves (and him) a favor and go check it out. The only sweeter deal is if he was going to pay you to read it.

Friday, December 06, 2002


After seeing The Matrix, I realized that I had found my ultimate movie; stylish, noirish cinematography packed with action that plays out with the balanced power and choreography of a musical, laced with enough story to keep me interested and captivated between fight scenes. For the longest time I feared that no film maker ever dare to mimic that film making style again, for fear of the "copycat" repercussions.

Equilibrium seems to have artfully answered the call: Charcoal tinted cinematography paired with an Orwellian retelling of a Farenheit 451 story packed with action that has been described by others as "Gun-Kata" and myself as "Gun-Fu." Hell, even the movie poster looks like a Matrix sequel. I'm going to go see it tonight, come hell or highwater, and if the preview is any indication, I might just be sleeping there overnight so I'm in my seat when the early show on Saturday starts.

I'm in action movie heaven.

[Edit:] Well, I guess I wouldn't call it heaven, exactly. As it turns out, I was duped by a well edited trailer. That's not to say that the movie was bad, but it wasn't great, either. It certainly didn't hold a candle to Matrix, even though it desperately wanted to at times. From watching the credits, it would seem that it was filmed almost entirely by Italians (I can only assume in Italy), bringing rise to the new term Spaghetti Action. Some people went so far as to love it so much they were heard exclaiming just two seats away from me, "omigodIcan'tfreakinbelievethatdidyouseethat!!!!" to others being so disgusted that they got up and left the theater. I'm probably a few shades on the "omigodetc" side of the fence (I do love me some action), but I do have to criticize it for having low-budget quality special effects and at times sets that resembled a bad Junior High play. And honestly, the whole cops in cheap motorcycle helmets and patent leather trench coats thing looks, well, cheap.

But the Gun Kata (term actually used in the movie) thing was pretty cool. If you like action movies, that is. Liz was audibly rolling her eyes whenever our hero would strike a martial arts action pose with the guns, while I was practically frothing with glee. I honestly wish they would have taken the Gun Kata bit even further, as at times it seemed more like he was just striking the same poses interchangeably, rather than going through an actual kata. It would have been fun to watch them explore it even further.

The funny thing was that I was actually happy that the trailer duped me at the end. I won't give away the ending in case anyone here is actually going to go see this (and if you are, you'd better hurry because I doubt it'll be in theaters more than a week), but let's just say that the trailer gives the impression of something that doesn't quite happen the way it's depicted. Granted, the ending is transparent; it ends in the same manner as you'd guess, but it just doesn't quite get there in the way you expected from the trailer. It's nice to be surprised like that every once in awhile. If anything, this is what trailers should do: get you to go see the movie, without actually giving anything away that's pertinent to plot or intrinsic to the enjoyment of key moments in the film.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

To Comment, or Not to Comment

I now know why some Bloggers out there don't have comments on their webpages.

It's a way to dissuade the masses of shift-key challenged internet children from coming and puking stupidity all over your website. I recently wrote another gaming article (about something the vast majority of those who come and read here could probably care less about), and had to witness what I can only describe as idiots weilding their ignorance like a weapon*; intent only on destroying any foundation for good or reasonable argument, even if it's the same foundation they happen to be standing on.

It made me miss the days of the "nuh-uh," "yeah-huh!" arguments of my youth.

* Credit for phrase belongs to Phil, who should also have his own website to show off his amazing talent.


A lot of times I find myself wondering what it's going to take to make myself happy. It's not that I'm an inherantly unhappy person, but I'm not typically known for jovial states of merriment.

Sometimes I wonder if it's going to be when I finally get that BMW I've always wanted, or when I've got the house with the 3 or 4 car garage, or maybe when there's a million dollars in the bank and no need to work anymore. Maybe it's when I become my own boss and have complete creative freedom.

But I know that none of those is the answer to happiness. It's something much more intangible and introspective than any of those things. Today when I was buying my lunch at the local grocery store, the man who served me was singing Christmas carols to himself while he worked. He was easily the happiest person I've seen in weeks. He works behind the meat counter, a job which I would consider a miserable existance, and he obviously loves his life.

He's normally a polite man, but I've never seen him this happy before, and I've never seen him singing Christmas carols, either. I guess Christmas just brings out the best in people (and the worst in others). So I hope that maybe this can rub off a little and everyone (Christmas observing or not) bothering to read this has a wonderful holiday season this year, and a happy new year.

May we all be so happy that we sing carols while we work.

Hypothetically Speaking

Hey, smokers*, next time you go to light a cigarette in a building that is an explicit non-smoking building and someone asks you to light the cigarette outside because the smoke from your light pours into their very non-smoking office, don't give them a stupid look and mumble "it's a match" through lips pursed holding your cigarette while holding said match up in the air. Instead, just say, "oh, sorry, I wasn't thinking" and head outside.

Because the guy you're about to get smoke all over doesn't give a rat's ass if your cigarette won't light up outside. It's not his problem. It's yours. So if you want to give yourself some nice lung cookies, then by all means, purchase a god-damned lighter and stop getting even remotely pissy when someone asks you politely not to break laws that you're already well aware of. Unlike you, the non-smoker came to work today to work, not smoke.

Thanks, hypothetically.

* If you're one of those rare polite and considerate smokers (I know you exist somewhere), you can consider yourself excused from this general bias towards "smokers."

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Twelve Years...

...and counting.

The one on the left was from our Second Real Date tm. to Ed Debevics' ancient photo booth twelve years ago. The one on the right is from the same photo booth, just yesterday.

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