Friday, October 31, 2003

Agent-Smith is Dead

Surprise, it's not another Matrix post.

My C:\ drive cut out two nights ago. It just up and died. One second, I'm ftp-ing fan art up to the server, and the very next second, there's a clicking noise, a flash of a black screen, and then the blue screen of death.

Only now it's like, the Helvetica or Arial blue screen of death. Microsoft has updated it for today's demanding consumer and their new-fangled sensibilities about crashes.

So now Agent-Smith is quite dead. He doesn't even show up as a drive anymore, master, slave, or otherwise. He's just gone completely. I'm actually quite pissed about it, because that was a Western Digital drive, and those just aren't supposed to fuck up like that. 20G worth of art, email, and personal junk is now just gone. Hopefully I can take the rig to PC Mart and they can help salvage what little they can off of it.

Hopefully this wasn't a virus, because if like, Agent-Jones over there on the F:\ drive suddenly changes his name to Agent-Smith, I'm probably going to faint or something.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

It's a Fan Thing

I did some Penny-Arcade fanart this week, as sort of an apology for not being able to "thug out" Tycho when he came to the NBA Ballers' event, since he was so looking forward to looking like a rap-star. So just in time for Halloween, I've thugged out the PA crew, for your enjoyment [link warning: it's huge, so if you're on dial-up, I'm sorry, and please be patient].

This turned out better than I had thought it would. I knew I needed some good looking logo-like bling thing in the background, and an online tutorial (and Gabe sending me a large PA logo) did just the trick. Doing this has made me feel better about getting the new website up and running and adding more art content.

Lyrics in the background are from MC Frontalot's Penny-Arcade themesong.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Warning: You're a Big Baby

So I'm opening my new Morpheus figurine (::gasp:: shock! horror! He opened the package!) to display here at work, and I noticed the following warning displayed prominently on the package:

Not intended for children over seventeen.

Seventeen?! What kind of kids are older than seventeen?! Wouldn't that make them adults? Technically?

Or maybe they're trying to say something to the thirty-two year old guy who bought it like a giddy kid in a candy-store...

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Five Past Tomorrow

As we started to roll our clocks back tonight (yes, we're actually up that late where 2:30 am magically becomes 1:30 am), we noticed that both of our computers had already rolled themselves back an hour.

Pretty much any device that has a small computer device that can keep track of the time and date can remember when to automatically adjust for daylight savings time, from your PDA to your computer to your cell phone. I'm sure someday every cheap-ass $10 alarm clock (and stove/microwave clock) in the house will also know to account for daylight savings time. This will then force a subtle if not slightly chilling change in the way the news gives you the reminder twice a year:

"Don't forget, folks, your clocks are going to roll themselves back an hour tonight."

It's almost Orwellian.

Friday, October 24, 2003

It's Over

The era of commercial supersonic flight is over, and it's not as if anyone, other than the idle rich, was ever able to enjoy it.

I know hardly anyone else cares about this kind of thing, but it just makes me incredibly sad. Too many great things that happened in earlier lifetimes are being cast aside because they are not "cost effective," rather than keeping them in service because they represent the leading edge of technology, and grow them into even better things. We haven't been back to the moon in ages, and manned orbital spaceflight has become a bit of a joke; we can't even get people into space properly anymore.

It seems like we're in a backwards progression here, or rather a recession in technology. No manned exploratory space flights (and don't tell me we've discovered everything out there already). No more supersonic commercial air flights. Even trying to implement the next wave of technology in the automobile (which hasn't had a major modification other than safety in almost a hundred years) is like pulling teeth.

This country is getting complacent. We're getting lazy. We can't even be counted on to back a war (which had more casualties in the opening attack for this country than WWII) for more than three months before we get antsy and start pointing fingers.

America, get off of your couches. Turn off the TV. Put down the remotes, and go invent or do something useful for crying out loud. Stop being such a bunch of consumer whores who cry when instant gratification isn't a possibility and start being useful.

Sorry. I'm just cranky today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Fourteen Minutes and Counting

I was just interviewed over at Gaming Age for my role on NBA Ballers (this game I'm working on at the place that I work: Midway).

You may need to refresh the page. It seems to have an error in it and will load blank on the first try.

The Shoe is on the Other Hand

Well, it's too bad, really. Muhammed has decided to quit as his own attorney. I was really starting to enjoy the ride. I mean, he actually withdrew his own request that would have allowed the nutjob to present mental health evidence (i.e. the insanity defense).

So now I only have one question: Did he quit because he realized what an idiot his client was, or did he fire his inept lawyer?

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Innocent Until Proven -- ahhhh Fuckit

So John Allen Muhammed (the D.C. Sniper) gave his opening statement today*. I dare you to go read it and see just how far you can get through it before you just roll your eyes. It'll be like our little contest. I made it about a quarter of the way through it before I just had to stop the insanity. It's actually worth skim reading it, because the prosecution actually had to interrupt his opening statement because he wasn't following typical opening statement proceedure. So the prosecution is actually helping him here because he's just that stupid.

I mean, you aren't even allowed to object to an opening statement, are you? This should be a lot like watching a two mile long coal train derail in slow-motion.

For once in my life, I'm in favor of completely abandoning the judicial process here, and would give the jurors a standing o' if they just stood up halfway through this travesty and said:

"Hey, can we just skip this b.s. and get straight to the part about this fucker being guilty?"

I mean, if the judge is going to allow the judicial process to be that screwed by allowing Mohammed to represent himself, you might as well go full bore.

* Link via Rick

White Club

So a girl in Oakland, CA, wants to make a "Caucasian Club." After reading this article, I think it's a good idea (and please, before anyone flames me for being a racist, read it, because even the ethnic kids agreed it was a good idea). But what was newsworthy to me, and what is probably at the heart of the matter of why this club won't work, is a quote from the NAACP:

"The East County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said it vehemently opposed the name of the club, calling it culturally insensitive."

Pot? Meet kettle.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Me on Lileks on Kill Bill

This pains my heart to say this, but I think James has fallen off the credibility wagon as far as his movie reviews have been going as of late. He wrote about Kill Bill on Thursday of last week, so after having seen the movie, I figured I'd swing by and take a gander. Turns out although he hates it, he hasn't even seen it yet.

The following rantiness is more for my own edification, so if you don't like reading this sort of thing, my apologies. Also, there's spoilers ahead, so be warned.

He starts off with:

Wrote about Kill Bill in the paper the other day, and how I really had no desire to see clever violence. Lots of letters telling me I am an idiot or I am just misguided and owe to myself to see this marvelous homage to 70s Hong Kong decapitation-genre movies, and lighten up dude! Fine. I’m not opposed to violence in movies or games. Hardly. I just don’t want to give Tarantino any money.

This is about where the review should have ended, because to this extent I can agree with anyone. If you don't want to go see it, that's cool. If, however, you're going to go on and make assumptions and judgements about the piece, you might actually want to have seen the object of your derision.

For all the “art” in his movies, they’re about nothing more than degradation. Of the audience, the characters, the actors, and anything that isn’t yet spattered with blood, spit or shit. “Reservoir Dogs” was on TV the other night, and I hadn’t seen it in a while. There he was in the opening scene with that interminable monologue about Madonna, and it now sounds so forced, so precious, so Quentin.

While I get tired of the same soundbites over and over and over again just as much as the next guy, you really can't criticise the guy for being himself. I mean, that would be like saying that "Lileks spends too much time doting about his daughter. And Macs. And really old movies. And politics. That's so Lileks." I'd imagine that's a big reason why people actually go to your site, James (myself included). You know, your fans? The people who enjoy your particular style and are looking for more of the same, with subtle variation and growth, day after day?

As an aside, I think you're spot on. Tarantino isn't really one of the "great" directors. His shit is derivative. I think he knows this. Anyone who's seen Resevoir Dogs and the Hong Kong movie (I think it might be City on Fire) he practically lifted it from scene for scene knows this. And no, that's not me pulling a Quentin. I'm just saying.

It’s like the dialogue he wrote for “Crimson Tide” - it clangs on the ear. It jumps up and down and demands attention. Listen to me, listen to me! I’m a clever boy who knows the distinctions between Silver Age Jack Kirby “Silver Surfer” comic books and the latter artists whose work will always stand in their shadow! None of this matters, but I know the difference and you don’t, and that makes me matter.

See, to me that was the most interesting scene in the entire film. It established that the two characters had things in common other than driving a submarine. Characters who have some driving hobby or motivation other than the plot of the movie is interesting to me. The fact that it was about comic books rather than old 30's cinema, or NY architecture or matchbooks or really bad 60's interior decorating is irrelevant. It was interesting dialog. Why should the subject matter matter?

In the trailer there’s a fight sequence - yeah, that really narrows it down - between The Bride and some other woman who I’m sure dies in a way that’s spectacular, well-shot and edited, and contains 298 references to other such deaths in mid-60s Thai “Battle Royale” precursors whose actors were drawn entirely from Bangkok brothels, etc. The fight is interrupted when the child of Uma’s opponent comes home from school. The women have to hide their weapons behind their backs. Hah hah! Go up to your room, mommy’s busy. Then Uma kills mom.

Hah hah! It rocks! Awesome! The way she stabbed her, and that soundtrack!

But now the little girl has no mommy.

Dude, it’s just a movie.

Okay, so then it’s okay if Uma goes upstairs and cuts the little girl’s head off?

Well, no -

Why not? It’s just a movie.

The other woman was bad. She deserved it.

Yes, “bad.” A complex moral position in a Tarantino film. He’s really wrestled with the definition of “bad,” hasn’t he.

Actually, he has. I'm going to ignore the assumptions made above and instead revisit Uma's driving motivation to kill Mommy.

Mommy and Uma were in an assassin's gang together. One day, Uma gets knocked up and decides she's going to get married and keep the baby. Then Mommy and the gang shows up at the wedding, and proceeds to kill everyone. The husband. The wedding party. The kids at the wedding party. The preacher. The pregnant bride.

So Mommy killed about ten people, including a pregnant woman. Pregnant woman happens to live, loses the baby, and while in a coma (due to Mommy's beatings) is repeatedly raped.

If that doesn't qualify as bad, I really don't know what does.

One of these days he’ll make a movie where the hero kills a kid. And if it gets cut from the final release, he’ll hang on to a copy so he can run it in his home theater, and sit in the middle of the room with a bucket of popcorn in one hand and his personal pink crayola-stub in the other.

I have a hard time reading the above and associating it with James Lileks, the previous king of non-assumption. The same guy who rides journalists for not backing up their own statements of over-generalisation with facts or quotes.

Look, she doesn't kill the kid. In fact, she even apologizes to the kid. She feels downright awful about being forced to kill Mom in front of the kid. Because since you didn't see the movie, you didn't see Mom try and shoot Uma through a box of Froot Loops while they were conversationally having coffee and arranging the final showdown far from the house so that the kid wouldn't be traumatised. Uma had no choice but to throw the knife at that point and defend herself. She goes so far to let the kid know that if she's still cross and wants to kill Uma in thirty years, that Uma will be waiting for her.

It's a revenge movie. The opening quote of the movie is the old Klingon Proverb: "Revenge is a dish best served cold." Should this be amended to state "Unless there's a child in the way of you getting your revenge. Nevermind that the mother of the child is the one who put her boot on your pregnant neck four years ago. Heck, throw that revenge in the microwave and thaw it out for thirty seconds. Maybe Revenge is really a dish best served tepid or at the very least luke-warm or perhaps even room temperature."

If you saw it and liked it, fine; matter of taste...It’s one thing to watch it and get it...It’s another thing entirely to want to make it.

Actually, no. If I saw it and liked it, fine. Matter of taste. If I saw it and didn't like it, fine. Again, matter of taste. If I didn't see it and said "I don't like Tarantino movies" and left it at that, again, fine, matter of taste.

But for the love of god, don't go off on a rant about how awful the movie is when you haven't even seen it yet. Criticising the character's motivation or their awful twisted background is incomprehensible without seeing the film. Hell, there's background information on other characters in that movie that makes what happened to Uma's character seem downright wholesome. But you haven't seen any of that. Because you haven't seen the movie. Going off on what you haven't seen makes you sound uninformed, old, and bitter.

And that's very not Lileks.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Kill Bill Review

Holy Mother of God.

Just when I had gotten sick and tired of everything Tarantino, he goes and blows my mind. Again.

Do you like Hong Kong action movie tributes? Check.
Do you like revenge movies? Check.
Do you like anime? Check.
Do you like swordfights? Check.
Do you like blood geysers in said swordfights? Check checkity check check.

If you're not laughing at the absurdity, you're picking your jaw up off the floor from the limb/blood-loss. Or you're marvelling at the storytelling. It's win-win-win.

Edit: I forgot to add one bit: You know how she has all that motor oil on her bike jumpsuit in the previews? It's not motor oil. It's blood. They chroma-keyed it out so the previews didn't look like a bloodbath.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

It's Like True Porn Clerk Stories, Only With Video-Games. And Less Porn

It's a site called Acts of Gord. While at times I think maybe this guy is really just Simpson's Comic Book Guy with a decent build and a black belt (it's all part of the act, but the self-inflation goes to excess at times), the stories are hilarious, and you can't help but shake your head and laugh along with how stupid most people are when it comes to retail theft.

Or really, just how stupid people are in general.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Interesting Laws

Or really annoying, but hey.

I just spoke with the Aurora Police Department, and apparently if you can hear someone's music from seventy-five feet away, at any time of the day, including daylight hours, that constitutes a noise violation, and if there's repeated visits (three) from a police officer regarding complaints, they will make an arrest.

As it turns out, the Aurora Police Department will not act on this law if the thing generating the music is a marching band practicing on school grounds at seven in the morning on a weekday.

I mean, I live a mile and a half away from the school and the drum corps woke me up this morning at 6:45.

Fucking please, people. I know it's homecoming, but I don't think it's too much to ask to wait to start making that kind of noise 'till respectable business hours, y'know?

Also, I need to find out how many people constitutes a band, because I'm going to declare my backyard a school and play loud music at three a.m. Ha! Take that coppers!

What Hero Are You?

So evidently there's some sort of cosmic unplanned "what kind of superhero would I like to be?" day today, seeing as friends Jack and Tim posted something to that effect on the same day.

While Tim's is less superheroic and more about just being a cyborg, Jack's raises the question [slightly paraphrased] would you take basic superpowers (flight, near invulnerability, super strength, etc.) if you had to look the way you look now for the rest of your life? Same hair, same body build, same clothes, makeup, etc. The only thing that would change is that you would still age normally.

My answer was an unwavering yes. I mean, I'm going to look like this anyway, so I might as well have the ability to kick ass with it. Or rather, the ability to kick exponentially more ass than I can now. Right. Anyway.

But I think the question is slightly important, because we as a geek (and "normal") society have been idolizing the wrong body types for too long. What made Unbreakable so convincing to me was that here's this guy, David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who's got a decent build to him, but a bit of a gut, and all of a sudden he realizes that he's got super-powers. He's human. He's not ripped. He doesn't wear tights, or a cape, or even a mask (actually, this remains to be seen as there's supposedly two more Unbreakable sequels that may or not be made, but I digress). He has personal and family problems. He's the guy next door.

I want to see more heroes like that. I want to see more comics or movies made (that aren't comedies) that involve normal average people who are definitively not average.

So what kind of superhero would you be, if someone granted you (reasonable, not planet-eating) powers?

I think I'd want the super-speed power, with some invulnerability (because holy christ would stopping instantly from a 600mph run suck for a normal human), only maybe without that ravenous appetite drawback.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Hive Update

So I come home from work today for my doctor's appointment, and there's now eleven more of the yellow-jackets on the window. That brought our one day total to twenty seven. Only now I call an exterminator as I kill these reinforcements.

Turns out they're wasps, and the nest was in the chimney. They were flying into the house through the fireplace.

Guess how we got rid of them?

Burn, baby, burn, flames-a-get-a-higher! They haven't been back.

Also, exterminator removed nest of yellow-jackets (yes! two nests in one house!) from the front of the house. My orders for him? "Find them and destroy them."


Scott, the intrepid instructor/brother-in-law

I flew a plane today.

And not just "here, take the controlls for awhile, either." Well, we did do that on the way to Skydive Chicago, but on the way back, it was, "Hey, you know how to steer on the ground, right? Steer us down the runway. Now go ahead and pull back gently to get us off the ground. Now turn us towards Joliet. Maintain 3500 feet altitude. Okay, we're going to do a lap around the airport and land on runway one two. Start with a descent of 500 feet per minute. Etc."

I mean, I landed the god-damned plane. It's important to note that I've never actually flown a real plane before in my life. As in ever.

Granted, my instructor/brother-in-law had to help out at the last second to keep my hard landing from becoming a crash-landing (this was due in part to my knowing we were coming in a bit too hard, but Scott was giving me correction advice the whole way in, and had suddenly become pre-occupied with manning the throttle, and didn't give me the order to pull up in time that I was waiting for, so he just grabbed the yoke and saved our bacon), but I aimed it all the way in, and let me tell you, when you're keeping a plane just five knots above a stall while doing a gradually descending lap around an airfield for your approach, it ain't easy.

It feels a lot like those balancing things, as if you were trying to keep the plane upright and pointed at the runway but it's sitting on a rolling beam.

I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was to get to do this. I've dreamed of being a pilot ever since I was fourteen, when my friend Gregg and I hatched a plan to both become aviators. When the military rejected me at the recruiting level for piloting because my vision was 20/21 in my right eye, my personal dream was shattered (Gregg is flying for American again now! woo!). So recently in an attempt to relive the dream I was playing a ton of WWIIOnline and doing almost exclusive fighter/bomber missions, and learned how to properly land a plane in simulation every time (seriously, landing planes = hardest thing to do ever). Evidently it paid off, because I am now officially "the best novice pilot with no training" Scott's ever seen.

I mean, I landed the plane.

One more thing on life's checklist of cool shit to do before I die? Done.

The Hive

Holy Fucking Shit. I had to kill like 16 yellow-jackets inside the house this morning. Allow me to emphasize a couple of things here for the folks reading this who haven't had their morning coffee yet:




So I've gone from having a nest inside the front bay-window/wall of the house to having them decide to co-habitate with us. Wonderful. Exterminator comes on Saturday. I was going to have him come visit for a spell after my doctor's appointment today, but I've got more exciting things to be doing, wasps or no.

And let me tell you something. Wasps are the most resiliant little fuckers on earth. I cut one in half trying to kill it and the top half still lived. I'd beat them like 80 times with the magazine on the carpet and they were still kicking. It got to the point where I'd have to push them back up against the French Freedom doors they were originally clinging to just so I could have something solid to smash them against. So after I beat them all into submission (body parts everywhere; we're talking decapitations, disembowellings, de-wingings, limbs flying everywhere), I had to then scoop them all up into a cup, and gas them with some insectiside because they all weren't dead yet and some were managing to crawl back out of the cup despite the fact that they were missing limbs. Then I put a wood block on top of the cup for good measure. Just in case they decided to pull some sort of crazy assed Terminator shit and get up after I'd killed them twice.

Hopefully I'll have pictures later. Of the exciting thing. The dead wasps are kinda gross.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

The Idiot Test

I had a wonderful conversation with a tech from SBC yesterday. After I told him that I couldn't connect to the internet through my DSL, and that the problem was on their end (I'd watch my modem ping a webpage and then never hear anything back), he proceeded to walk me through the eighty fucking million idiot steps that his script told him to have me walk through.

Modem plugged in? Are you fucking kidding me? Do you think I didn't check before I called?

Hey, here's an idea, if I already told you I was watching my modem ping away and nothing comes back, don't bother asking me to open my CMD window and type /ping Because it won't work.

So instead of wasting twenty fucking minutes of my life talking to a tech who barely speaks any english, maybe you could have just told me what you did at the end of the phone call twenty minutes sooner; that it was in fact your problem, and that you'd have someone look into it.

This whole encounter got me to thinking: There's standardized aptitude tests for education and job placement, so where's the aptitude test for computer use? I could take a one-time test online that would be stored in some sort of credit-bureau-type thing, and then the SBC tech could just look it up and realize that I do in fact know my armpit from my asshole when it comes to using computers. I'm no genius, but I think I can figure out that my router is in fact working fine before I call, thankyouverymuch.

This would totally separate the pleebs from the rest of us who actually know what they're doing, and would save me a whole helluva lot of wasted time on the phone with idiot tech service reps.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

It's Not Funny, But It Is

From MSN today: At Least Seven Dead After Bus Tour Flips

Illinois State Police Trooper Doug Whitmore told NBC News that a semi-trailer failed to slow as it approached a toll plaza. It struck a truck, which careered into the bus about 3:45 p.m. (4:45 p.m. ET).

I guess trucks are making a living out of smashing into buses. Who knew. Be on the lookout, folks. It could be you they're after next.

The Rogue Hair

I've been meaning to throw this question up here for some time, and keep forgetting it untill the bastard finds another pore to sprout from.

I have a rogue hair, and it refuses to behave. I first noticed it on my neck, near my Adam's apple when I was first learning how to shave when I was but a wee kid. It was well below the shave-line at the time, and I remember feeling this insanely long hair on my neck while I was shaving. Assuming it was just someone's stray hair that landed on my neck, I pulled on it, only to find out it was growing out of my skin. We're talking like seven or eight inches of perfectly clear hair here. It seemed almost synthetic.

So I pulled it out, and about every six months since then, I've found the bastard growing somewhere else on my body. Again, usually four to six inches long, and perfectly clear.

Things have taken a turn for the worse, evidently. Recently I found it growing out of my head, thick and white (and no, it wasn't gray, thanks for asking), and just yesterday the bastard was growing out of my eyebrow. I magine finding a single eyebrow hair that was over an inch long. And about as thick and strong (and tenacious) as a guitar string.

Does anyone else ever get these? Is there some wacked-out medical reason for the insane growth spurt of the hair folicle or something?

I can only imagine where it'll show up six months from now. Like, say, inside my nose.

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