Friday, December 30, 2005

Wrenches and top hats

Want to see the difference between liberals and conservatives? I have been eating lunch with Slazak for years now. Someone joined us yesterday, and when asked by a passer-by why we were breaking years of tradition by allowing a third at our table, Matt replied "we're taking in orphans" and I said "we're recruiting".

Friday, December 23, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Frag for Cancer

I think I may have convinced my workplace to hold an employee Halo 2 tournament as a fundraiser today. As you may remember, I've been trying to get a game going on one of the big-big screens for a while now. Only recently has the concept of making a real event out of it come about. With any luck, Microsoft or Bungie will hook us up with some prizes. It doesn't matter either way, though -- the title of King Geek should be enough motivation to get attendance. Further updates as events warrant.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Most Wonderful Time

There's a turkey on my kitchen floor. It will be there all week.

Tomorrow I'm giving chocolates to the woman I drew in Secret Santa. When asked for gift ideas, she suggested world peace exclamation point.

If pushed, I would describe the general tenor of all recent phone conversations as 'strained' at best.

It is definitely too late for me to get gifts to my brothers in time for Sunday, even if I was sure of their current addresses. Every day this week I will check the mail with apprehension, hoping that neither of them got me anything. I'm fairly certain I can count on them for this.

I wish I could put my finger on how to spread tidings of comfort / joy to my coworkers without looking like either a conserva-fascist who refuses to bend with the times or a media-brainwashed wuss who's too afraid to call the day off what it really is.

Despite itself, I do genuinely enjoy Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Screw you hippie!

Almost got run over by some jerk leaving the Lexington Co-op parking lot. And they say weed doesn't make you stupid.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Let's Get Together

I went to a seminar today in which, among other things, the trainer stated that Generation-X'ers don't like to work in groups because we're all latch-key children who came home to empty houses and played Nintendo. As the only representative of the under-40 crowd in attendance, I decided to hold my tongue. My thoughts on the root causes of the apathy and indolence of Gen-X aside, I have to confess that I was baffled by the Nintendo being cited as an anti-socializer. I don't remember ever playing videogames by myself as a kid. I remember my brothers watching me crawl my way through Final Fantasy, my father spending entire weekends burning every tree and bombing every rock in The Legend of Zelda as we logged his progress, my friends and I mastering the intricacies of Pro Wrestling and RC Pro Am. For my sixteenth birthday my parents bought me a 12-inch TV for my bedroom, so my brothers just watched my run through Lifeforce there instead.

Lies! Lies I say!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Elmer Season!

There are men in the hills here, men with guns. Along the highways, pickup trucks bedecked with yellow-ribbon magnets have been left like rusty snake-skins as their owners prowl the snowy forests for the unlucky bucks who will secure their places at the Men's Table at all social events until next year. I'm hoping the dim, orange light of a cigarette in no way resembles moonlight in a deer's eye.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The King is Dead

The blogs giveth and the blogs taketh away. With the temporary sabbatical (is that an oxymoron?) of Royal Toybox, the web world has offered up Dad May Have Been Right. Get over there, you content-hungry freak.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


I was sick a couple days ago. As the day wore on, the question of whether I was feeling well enough to go to the bar came up. Fully aware that Her Worship's sanity's edges were starting to fray a bit from seeing no one for five days other that Yours Truly and a reportedly handsome plumber, I felt the risk/benefit analysis tipping toward a night out. Still I waffled, knowing that I should stay home and watch bad TV under a blanket. Eventually, a very old marketing campaign found its way to the front of my consciousness: Guinness is good for you!

Several hours and two pints of the black stuff later, I was right as the mail. Obviously, the only conclusion possible is that the adage, first revealed to me in 1986 on a postcard sent to my grandmother which now hangs on my refrigerator, is indeed true.

Friday, December 02, 2005


If the last post wasn't cloudy enough, check this out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Except flight

Download this and play it. Especially if you don't play videogames with any regularity. So... chill...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Who are you?

It took me a while, but as promised I am back on the topic of identity and anonymity in the modern digital world.

Made-up factoid: the average American visits a new website and creates a new log-on and password for himself once every four days. I have lost count of the number of websites which have asked me the apparently innocuous question of what I want my log-on name to be. It's maddening, the constant requirement to define myself. What do you choose? The name your parents gave you? An old nickname? A reference to something you're all geek about? What you want to be? What you want others to think you are? As if defining oneself in the anarchistic vacuum we know as modern life wasn't difficult enough.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

And Hell's coming with me

Here's a follow-up to the recent business about intelligent design. Since I do truly believe that the rounding-up and 're-education' of non-Jesus-freaks is becoming more and more likely, I feel like I should skip town. My fanaticism for the US, on the other hand, dictates that I should move to the bible belt and start a life of vigilante rationality. Which will I choose?

I think I may stage a Constantinian mass conversion. I'll go Protestant, get elected President, go to war, and then receive a vision from the spirit of Newton which will tell me that I will win the battle through the mighty influence of the mysterious and sacred powers of physics.

Monday, November 21, 2005

And now it's ok.

Geek pride continuously surprises me. How did we get to this point, the point at which reveling in one's social ineptitude has become a viable social action? This product in particular I find amazing. Hilarious, but amazing.

A direct relationship can be drawn between the broad acceptance of the Geek Nation and the realization of Uncle Bill's dream of a personal computer in every home. All of a sudden these kids have a purpose in their families. Computer acting up? Call Mikey. Thus a place in modern society, and thus respect and endorsement.

I want to know what the hell geeks did before computers went mainstream. I know they read Dune. Ham radio? Model railroads? What did groups of geeks do before the Playstation? Chess club?

It's a flip-off!

Don't miss the hot flipbook action over at outgrabes. I recommend John Williams with mine.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Now that was one crappy week.

Here are my New Week's Resolutions:
  • Actually take Wednesday and Friday off, as scheduled.
  • Get fairly drunk at some point, preferably not in front of family. But only preferably.
  • Buy some Christmas presents. 'Tis the season to take one look at the mall's parking situation and gain true understanding of the value of the internet.
  • Don't ruin Thanksgiving for everyone.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thank you Slashfilm.

What are you doing here? Go watch one of these.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Looks like Jess has done it again. Get over there and check out the latest debate. Oh, and Hoffmann? I laughed out loud. Twice.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Justin Bailey

When Metroid came out, my father complained that Nintendo had missed a great opportunity for making games educational. He suggested that instead of the apparently random mish-mash of numbers and letters that made up the passwords for the game, they could have set it up so every digit in a long-division problem would need to be entered.

Fast-forward fifteen years, and the Nintendo DS has a brain training "game". As near as I can tell, it's a set of daily exercises that are meant to make sure you use all parts of the gray matter. The story on IGN does a pretty good job of explaining it.

And here's the weird thing: it looks kinda fun.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Xbox360: Hands-on Review

A fraction of second after grabbing the controller, some dude appeared out of nowhere to tell me that he had seen it at CompUSA, and that it was awesome. He didn't leave. A few seconds later, a ten-year-old sidled up, grinning sweetly. I got the distinct feeling that this was a angel-on-one-shoulder-devil-on-the-other situation, but in the place of miniature versions of myself dressed in white and red were two different facets of my gamer id, one a black-wearing, soul-patch-sporting, turbo-geek with no social skills, the other a bespectacled child too shy to speak. I left abruptly.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Forward thinking

Go check out today's outgrabes post, and the many responses -- the people have spoken. The good news is, the Northeast remains sane.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Lasers Temple

Seventeen seconds? Seriously?

I know a substantial number of B A Starters have spent altogether too many hours trying to ulock all the cheats in Goldeneye. Dizzying runs done over and over ruined many a sunny summer afternoon for us all, but these guys? Holy shmoley.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Come on down

Has anyone else noticed that the font used in the much-maligned Grand Theft Auto series is the same as the one used for The Price Is Right?

Looks uncomfortable

I'm all for unusual controllers. This, though, seems a bit much. Not that I can't think of at least one person for whom this would be a great gift.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Betcha can't have just one

Apparently I was in two places at once it work today. This is bothersome on many levels, especially since it was not my doing. Certain Catholic saints were purported to be able to do this, but I would assume they knew about it. I, on the other hand, appear to have a doppelganger. Is the other one evil? Or am I the evil one? I'm very curious to see what will happen when we meet. The worst possible scenario is that the other me is the real one. Further updates as events warrant.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Until they're squeaky clean

So, I've been trying to get the projector-and-laptop guy at work to set up an Xbox night in the auditorium. He keeps telling me to put in an AV request. What am I, some kind of chump? I need to put in a request to use company property for personal entertainment? I go right to the source and I get sent back to the Red-tape Highway? So, I guess I've been put in my place. Once I do finally convince him to take some initiative and make it happen, I'll be sure to remind him who's boss as I repeatedly mop the floors of alien ships with his carcass.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Get a job

Took a day off and took the kids out shopping today. The 9-to-5 cityscape weirds me out every time. Everyone on the street has the look of a person who doesn't spend enough time in conversation with other functioning members of society. I do not belong among the daytime denizens of this mirror-city, and they know it. Each time I venture out into their territory -- lands which are the demesne of me and mine at night -- I fear they will suddenly and without warning take arms against me, sparing a few moments to beat me to death with their hands, and then return to their odd, highly-regimented daily routines with the same speed and non-chalance as my blood seeps into the sun-lit asphault.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Not possible.

This drives me crazy. How? How?!? HOW?!?! HOW, GOD DAMN IT, HAAAAAAAAAAAA-OHHH-OOOOO?

Monday, October 24, 2005

No help

Apparently there comes a point in one's career past which people care about what you do outside of work. Associations, volunteer organizations, and whatnot. Not really my bag, which may become a problem fairly quickly. Here's an example of why I am not destined for any board rooms:

The setting -- my porch. A co-worker walks by as some friends and I carouse.

Professional young woman: I have a JLA meeting tomorrow.
Alex: You're in the Justice League of America?!?
PYW: That's what my husband said. It's the Junior League, a women's community organization.
Alex: Huh. Is there a Senior League? Is it all men?
PYW: I'm going to go home and go to bed. Work tomorrow.
Alex: I'm going to continue drinking on my porch. Work tomorrow.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

nine years

Her Worshipfulness's cousin has invaded, and the occupation forces are strong. I called for reinforcements last night, under the auspices of wanting to give her a choice of men to glean attention from. I have fears for today's plans, and here's why:

HW: So, we can drop you off any time you want.
Cousin: Oh, don't worry. I'm in no rush.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Holy shit! Snow Crash is on Time's 100 best novels of all time!

I read this book after my roommate's copy of Entertainment Weekly (which he never subscribed to, nor paid for, but presumably still receives to this day) said Cryptonomicon was going to be good. T'wasn't out yet, so I picked up Snow Crash. 100% awesome. I'd lend you my copy, but some other member of the Geek Nation has it. I think.

I'm so excited, I'm adding a new button.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

fingers crossed

I think this confirmation is the final one. My favorite part -- "a younger character with no gadgets". Here's hoping they can dispense with the camp and make 007 worth watching again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Never happen

Another excellent wedding this weekend.

At the aforementioned wedding, I asked a friend and his girlfriend how their recently purchased Playstation 2 has been working out. I was perfunctorily told that they have been playing Tiger Woods, and then heard a sentence I had never thought I would:

Ashley: "Chris made me a player."

Someone had finally done it. Someone had broken down decades of resistance and convinced his girl to play videogames.

Alex: "Really? That's great! I can't believe it!"
Ashley: "I've got a skort."

Hmm... so, she plays videogames in a skort? (I'm inferring from the horizontal slashing motion she made mid-thigh and the spork-like term that this word is meant to describe an article of clothing that's somehow both a skirt and pair of shorts. Feel free to write in if I'm wrong). Do gamer girls wear skorts? Did these two go to Hot Topic and say "give me everything that geek chicks wear"? Had they taken it that far? In mind appeared a vision of Ashley in a plaid skirt (I still can't figure out what a skort would look like. Something like one hand clapping, I think), black boots, and an anime T-shirt sitting in Chris's living-room mashing buttons.

Alex: "Did he buy you a pink tanktop that says "gamer" or something?
Ashley (befuddled look): "In the game. In Tiger Woods. My player wears a skort."
Alex: "Uh... heh-heh. Who needs a drink?"

Sunday, October 09, 2005


I love me some language. I don't think any B A Starters will be surprised to hear that I got several 'Very strongly biased toward the Northeast United States' responses on this test.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


The Resistance
Achtung! You are 30% brainwashworthy, 22% antitolerant, and 80% blindly patriotic
Welcome to the Resistance (Der Widerstand)! You believe in freedom, justice, equality, and your country, and you can't be converted to the the dark side.

Breakdown: your Blind Patriotism levels are borderline unhealthy, but
you show such a love of people from everywhere and a natural resistance
to brainwashing, you would probably focus your energy to fight the Fuehrer with furor, so to speak.

Conclusion: born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would
have taken up ARMS against the oppressors. Or even your friends'
oppressors. Congratulations!

Less than 5% of all test takers earn a spot in the Resistance!

The Would You Have Been A Nazi? Test

- it rules -

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 33% on brainwashworthy
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on antitolerant
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 94% on patriotic
Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The funny thing is, they found this dog...

So, they found the real Ithaca. I didn't know the current Ithaca wasn't the real Ithaca. I guess that adds another stop to the Geek Tour of the Mediterranean.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Don't forget: Fall is the season of pumpkin ice-cream. Schedule some consumption before you forget and miss it again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Why is he dressed like Castro?

A very uncomfortable-sounding web guy was just on 102.1 talking about the new B-Stream section on Once I realized he wasn't saying "pee stream", things became clearer. Looks like they've got some streaming music going on, and that users, edge staff, and a few celebrities have the ability to submit playlists. It's acting like a streaming radio station right now, with no option to skip or select, but I recommend a look. I'd like to at least be able to select which playlist I want -- for example, I want to listen to what k-os posted -- but all in all it's worth keeping an eye on. After all, The Edge is awesome. Not as awesome as The Edge, but then what is?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Hardest

As you can see, I've gone a little button crazy. Something about 'em I just like. They're a webgeek version of the bars military personnel wear. Want your own? Go here:

Button Creator for Free

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Rock out

In an effort to avoid having an ice cavern for an apartment this year, we did some work today with the desperately needed assistance of the in-laws. In short, we prepped the windows against one Johnathan Frost. Endless caulk jokes. Endless caulk jokes... with my father-in-law. Somehow I survived, but probably only since he knew that if he brained me with mallet he would end up having to rehang the curtains.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hello, Oogie.

Ran into one of the IT guys today, the guardian of the Secret Elephant Graveyard, the one who looks like Kamajii but with fewer arms and talks like an ent. He was standing in the men's room, staring into the mirror and rubbing his beard. I impart to you, gentle reader, this summarized transcript of the conversation which started there and continued into the hallway.

Alex: Given up on pulling out your hair and moved on to the beard?

Kamajii: Nah, just plucking the bugs out.

A: Fun.

K: Sometimes I think I should just give up. Just pick 'em off the ground and stick 'em in my beard. Save 'em the trouble.

A: Totally, dude. You should embrace it. You should teach them to do stuff. Like the flea circus in old cartoons.

K: Make them do my bidding. Get into small places.

A: Freak people out.

K: But then the Orkin man would come after me.

A: You could walk into the Pentagon and say "check this shit out". Apply your powers for the common good. Wear a cloak and stuff.

K: They'd strap me down and do all kinds of experiments on me.

A: If they try it, sic the bugs on 'em.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Over 9000

Just how much is a proud man willing to debase himself in order to win an Xbox 360 from Mountain Dew?
  • Start occasionally buying Pepsi at work, even though it sucks? Yes.
  • Plan on replacing the normal household purchase of Coke with Pepsi from 10/2/05 through 10/22/05 (or while supplies last), in order to receive the specially marked sticker worth three codes? Yes.
  • Convince coworkers to give him their bottlecaps? Yes.
  • Ask the Housekeeping folks to glean the caps from the discarded Pepsi products of the workplace? No.
  • Take a bottlecap off of an empty bottle left on top of a trash can in the cafeteria? Yes.
  • Take a bottlecap off of the ground on Elmwood? No.
  • Spot an empty bottle, insist that the car be stopped, jump out and grab the cap? No.
I'm not proud of it, but I'm not hiding anything either.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

8 @ 57@r7

A coworker of mine got a new phone extension --1337. As we all know, this totally pwns.

For those of you not disgustingly geek-assed enough to know what I'm talking about, this is leetspeak (or "13375p34k"), the odd twisting of the English language used by online gamers. I recommend the wikipedia entry on the topic for a good summary of the major points. Anytime you see numbers used instead of letters in the middle of a word, the suffix "-xors" added to a word for no reason, and other such nonsense, back slowly away until you can feel functioning society around you again.

From a linguistic standpoint, leetspeak fascinates me, particularly its prevalence and standardization. How can so many people use the same made-up rules in the same way? I understand why a secretive "language" or code system would be used by girl-phobic basement-dwellers as they bop around pretending to be elves. It's a step above jargon, intentionally meant to conceal and confuse, that only the insiders can interpret or often even recognize. This is geek perfection.

That being said, do not ever use leet in conversation with me. I will smack you, y0u 0v3rc4ff3'n473d w4ck0.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


I do my best to avoid acting in anger. Maybe it's because I'm from puritanical New England, maybe it's because I watched too much Star Wars as a kid, I don't know. I'm certainly not always successful, but that's what I try to adhere to.

My question is this: is anger useful? Can anger be used to strengthen good actions? It's certainly a good way to get a boost of energy, but is it more destructive in the end? Unfettered, anger will make one lose focus and make mistakes. Can it be fettered? Can a controlled anger yield positive results?

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Not entirely sure why you would buy Zoo Keeper for the NDS, when you can play it for free all over the net, and have been able to for years. And anyway, I thought the DS was only for Nintendogs.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

That's a bad outfit!

The new Superman movie is going to be bad. I need to keep reminding myself of this. The first one is bad, and that has Christopher Frackin' Reeve.

The thing is, I've been so Pavlovved by the theme music that they could play a test pattern and I'd love it. There's a fake teaser trailer out there, and I barely made it through that in one piece -- I can't imagine what a mess I'm going to be at the end of the full feature-length film.

The problem is as follows. For reasons unbeknownst to me, Superman holds great power over me. There are only two things that can elicit a strong positive emotional response from me: the American national anthem and Superman. Apparently I have a serious feelings about the strongest thing on Earth using its powers for good.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Even I

I have a blog. That means I have to write about Katrina, right?

I have a request. Please stop using this horrific tragedy as an example of your political agenda. Stop snorting and saying "typical". Whether you're a member of the Bush Defamation League, you don't like people whose skin has more or less brown than yours, you're anti-gun, or whatever the hell you're trying to prove, I'm tired of it. People are dying and other people are trying to help them. That's it.

Here are some selections from's timeline of the events.

August 26th

• 4 p.m.: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declare states of emergency.

August 27th

• During the day, residents of Louisiana's low-lying areas are told they must evacuate; residents in other low-lying areas are urgently advised to do so. President Bush declares a state of emergency in Louisiana.

August 28th

• 10 a.m.: As Katrina hits 175 mph winds, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin orders mandatory evacuations as the storm seems to beat a direct path to the city.

August 29th

Katrina hits.

August 30th

• The U.S. military starts to move ships and helicopters to the region at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

August 31

• President Bush flies over the Gulf Coast in Air Force One to survey the damage. He later announces a major federal mobilization to help the victims.

September 1

• Violence disrupts relief efforts as authorities rescue trapped residents and try to evacuate thousands of others living among corpses and human waste. Those stranded express growing frustration with the disorder evident on the streets, raising questions about the coordination and timeliness of relief efforts.

• Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announces that 4,200 National Guard troops trained as military police will be deployed to New Orleans over the next three days. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco requests the mobilization of 40,000 National Guard troops.

September 2

• President Bush visits Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and later signs a $10.5 billion disaster relief bill.

• Members of the Congressional Black Caucus criticize the pace of relief efforts, saying response was slow because those most affected are poor.

September 3rd

• The Army Corps of Engineers brings in pumps and generators from around the nation to help get New Orleans pumps back on line and bail out the city.

Now, I don't really have anything to compare the timeliness of the federal response to. Maybe the people who are making claims that the goverment should have responded more quickly know more about these things than I do, but I'm not sure I buy that it could have been faster.

Yes, people have guns. Yes, people who are very hungry and very upset have guns. And yes, there have been incidents of some people shooting at the people who are trying to help. This is very, very messed up. This does not mean that we should abandon anyone, or that anything even remotely resembling a majority of victims do not deserve help. We should not succumb to the temptation to group the victims together based on the actions of a few crazed jerks.

And that's all I've got.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Japanese people are weird. If you don't believe me, go check this out. Jesus.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Not pictured

I just received some pictures from my Mom. One of them is of one of my brothers, this one being The Dark Lord of Darkness. How dark is he, you ask? In the picture, he is wearing a T-shirt which reads "I'm only wearing black until they make something darker".

The picture is of him opening his birthday present, a green striped polo shirt. Come on, Mom.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

So now I know.

The Rhapsodic Oracle had told me the following:

What do you think of me, Rhapsody?
Stereotypes, Blur. Fuck you, Rhapsody.

Will I have a happy life?
California, Gomez. That's more of a place than an answer.

What do my friends think of me?
[Untitled], Oasis. Is that the equivalent of "[expletive deleted]"?

Do people secretly lust after me?
Seven Nation Army, White Stripes. That's a lot of people.

How can I make myself happy?
See America Right, Mountain Goats. So I should get blitzed and travel. Gotcha.

What should I do with my life?
The Scientist, Coldplay. A bit late to be telling me this, Rhapsody. Seriously.

Why must life be so full of pain?
Devils Haircut, Beck. Sorry, Vito. Looks like I have to move on.

How can I maximize my pleasure during sex?
Susanne, Weezer. Ladies? You know my number.

Can you give me some advice?
Guns Blazing, U.N.K.L.E. Um... that's a little frightening.

What do you think happiness is?
The Second One, Remy Shand. I do find that after two drinks, life improves.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I may tell you to run

Today, I send you on your way to other parts of the nets.

Here's a story on the Playstation symbols, and what their common meanings are in Japan. Found on digg.

In unrelated news, Peter now has a blog. Enjoy.

And, just in case you were wondering what to do with your mouth tonight, Ginger Altoids are frackin' awesome.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Move and the bloomin' onion gets it.

Outback Steakhouse: No rules, just right.

103.3 The Edge: Break all the rules, there are no rules, rules are for wusses.

At what point did anarchy become a marketing tool? A healthy disrespect for authority is a major part of the American persona, sure, but no rules? The war of all against all? Does that really convince anyone to buy things? All I could envision as I ate dinner were fisticuffs and screaming matches lit by wallaby-shaped neon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Now you know.

Word of the day: perquisite.

The def: A payment or profit received in addition to a regular wage or salary, especially a benefit expected as one's due.

I had no idea "perks" was short for something. Awesome.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Big Paper

What happens when a videogame fanatic marries an illustrator? Arguments about concept art.

My argument: The person on the left is a girl.
Hers: Nuh-uh.
Mine: Yes-huh.

After a little reading, it would appear that the "nuh-uh" line of reasoning is the correct one. But cut me some slack here -- look at those eyelashes. I'm holding out for the game to see if 'he' ends up being a girl in disguise.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

We're all like this.

As the life-consuming MMORPG's and my efforts to resist them have been on my mind recently (heck, I've only posted once since first talking about it), that's what you're getting today. It's like they're frickin' following me around, waiting to pounce. Here's an excerpt from a recent email from one of my brothers:

"I picked Final Fantasy XI back up again. I dropped it about 7 months ago. Now with a lot of the nwer update the game is great and it helps that I'm not making some of the mistakes I made before. Like bad gil spending and not sticking with a class."

It's always good to hear your brother is learning from his digital mistakes. Wouldn't want him besmirching the family name in the online world. Also, why play a game that's so similar to real life? Spending money poorly and changing careers frequently have repercussions? Doesn't sound like much of a fantasy to me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Shine on your brother

There are some peaceniks on Gates Circle. They've got some signage, little candles, and a guitar. Several incarnations of "the news" is there.

Assuming that this is an anti-war demonstration, I say the following: Come on now people. Go ahead and express yourself if it makes you feel better, but if you really want to make a change, go through the legitimate channels. Tell your congressman you're not going to vote for him again if your demands are not met. Get a bunch of people to say that. Then your congressman will go to work and your voice will be heard. It may not be perfect, but it's the best we've come up with so far.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Close one

I played a dangerous game yesterday. I discussed Worlds of Warcraft with a friend. Several of my friends and relatives have fallen prey to the Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing genre, spending hours of their time running around in fake worlds with other enthusiasts. My understanding of the gameplay went as follows:

#1 - It's just like a regular videogame, but there all kinds of annoying real-world people running around bugging you.

#2 - You start off and people pick on you because you are new. Then you spend all kinds of time doing boring shit because you need to level up. Once you're at a respectable level, the newcomers ask you for stuff all the time.

#3 - Any time you do too well, the company that maintains the game sends somebody in to slap you around.

#4 - It's expensive, time-consuming, and unforgivably geek-ass.

Now, all of these things may or not be true. Nonetheless, people just love the hell out this Worlds of Warcraft game. So what's the draw? I've heard that the social aspect is fun, that you team up with your friends and do stuff, that there's a great deal of variety of diversions. Still, though... pretending to be a magical elf-warrior? Come on.

So, I quiz a compatriot of mine on the game last night. His answers were satisfactory. Almost too satisfactory.

So, you don't have to fight anybody?
No, man. I don't player-kill. And you can level up by doing quests. Like "bring me some stuff" kind of things.

What do you do?
I'm a tailor. I make armor, bags, and stuff like that. I sell it to people, or give it away.

Are there sports?
Kind of. There are places where you can join a team of capture-the-flag and stuff like that.

This all sounded fine. A lot better than the "go hunting for beasties, raid their dead bodies for currency, spend that currency on better gear, repeat" formula I expected. As he went into detail of how the various races and classes interact, something caught my fading attention: "...different languages..."

Turns out the different races speak different languages, and if your character doesn't speak them, the text the other users type come out as gibberish. As a language-geek, this raised a mighty eyebrow.

Fortunately, there's no way my machine could run the game. Otherwise, I have a real fear that some night I'd end up drunkenly setting up Atharien, the Enchanter Linguist.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Continuing saga

So, I figured out to do with the old NES -- fix it. Now if I could only find my damn games. Basement? Closet? My brothers? College roommate? I know I've got a light gun and a game genie around somewhere too. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Finally stepping to the plate, Greg decided that a comment on the vampire-rules-all post just wasn't enough, and decided to harass me via email. The results follow.

Greg - I just read your little vampire post. Who do you think you're kidding?

Alex - Dude. For the purposes of that post, werewolves turn into regular old wolves. Not jacked-up uberwolfmen. I kid no one!

Greg - For the purposes of that post? You can't just change the rules under that auspice.

Alex - And by your rationale, I should be using the vampire powers laid out in Anne Rice, or even Castlevania. The concept was classic v classic. It's not my fault your precious werewolves suck.

Greg - You did use the vampire powers laid out in castlevania. Specifically, Symphony of the Night.

If we're taking about the lonely count in the castle, then you ought to take the wolfman against him since they're both romantic flavored tales. If we're talking about the very first myths, take Lycaon, but then take the nosferatu skeevy bugger who simply drinks human blood.

If we're talking about legends, well the man-into-wolf is one. The man into ferocious dire-wolf immune to normal weapons is another (loup-garou). The man into 15ft tall hulking, furred, clawed, fanged biped who rides the winds, disappears by turning sideways and hunts with the aid of evil spirits is yet another (wendigo).

Sorry to keep on this. Academically, I just don't think the proper comparisons were made.

Alex - I meant "DARK METAMORPHOSIS!!!" etc.

You know, I agree. Dracula was not the origin of the vampire legend, and thus should not necessarily have counted. Or, if I was going to use the earliest popularization of the legend, I should have used... The Wolfman or something. I'll be sure to post your statements for all to see, Mr, Wikipedia.

Greg - The wikipedia was of no help to me. I went there, but it had nothing that I didn't already know on the subject. I had to search the far corners of the internet to verify my knowledge on those obscure bits!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Touching is good.

I continue to lay the groundwork for my pending purchase of a Nintendo DS. Today, on yet another trip to Target, I showed Her Worshipfulness Nintendogs, complete with cooing "awwwlookatim" noises, and even she could not resist the cuteness. Everything is going according to plan.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bwa ha ha ha haaaaaa...

Recently played Castlevania: Seemphony Of De Naaayt. Fantastic game in which you are the son of Dracula and some human chick and are trying to keep ol' Vlad from returning to life because you like people. There are four different endings, depending on how you beat the game. I took the time to get the fourth ending, and let me tell you, even having removed any "oh my god this is so frickin cheesy" thoughts from my mind, I was disappointed.

You see, in the third ending, the son of Drac tells his boon companions that he's off to kill himself to end the line of Nosferatu forever. In the fourth, it's the same deal, except that one of the said companions runs off after him, apparently under the impression that her amorous intentions would keep him from driving a stake through his heart.

Are you kidding me? If you're going to go through the effort of making a tale of Gothic horror, don't make the ending be about getting the girl. Where's your head at, Konami?

Friday, August 05, 2005


OK kids. Here's another B A Start poll!

My old NES is no worky-worky, and I want to do something horribly nerdy with the case. But what? Best I can come up with is a drink-holder, but I'm sure we can do better.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Started another blog project, a smallish parody of our beloved Elmwood community:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Today I engaged in a conversation about old computers, and the Wang came up.

"You think that's bad? I used have to use the Wang. We'd have to go the Wang room. 'Hey, you done in there? I really need the Wang!'"

How the hell am I supposed to keep a straight face? Huh? How?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I'm right, you know.

Just to set things straight one and for all. All things being equal, a vampire could beat a werewolf in a fight with little issue. Vampires can turn into bats, mist, wolves, and who knows what else. They can climb walls and move fast. Werewolves can only turn into wolves. If you go in for this business of werewolves turning into giant jacked-up bipedal killing machines with opposable thumbs, you've fallen prey to the hype. Werewolves turn into wolves and that's it, and only at the full moon.

Vampires could also beat unicorns. Anyone with a decent weapon could beat a unicorn -- that horn is for ornamental purposes only. About the only thing unicorns are good for is appearing to virgins.

A werewolf, on the other hand, might have some trouble besting a unicorn. (Thanks to Sarah for the link. She knows me all too well.) Pit a wolf against a horse sometime -- it would be roughly similar to that.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Doing my part

Today I overheard a coworker saying she bought her age-11 son an electric blue Nintendo DS for his birthday, and that he has many systems already. Being the community-minded citizen I am, I strolled over to her desk to strike up a conversation on the topic. After a few lead-in remarks, I asked if she was familiar with the ESRB rating system, and if she checked the ratings before buying games for her kid. She told me she usually made her judgement on the appropriateness of the title based on the picture on the box front.

Not ten minutes later she had full knowledge of the ESRB's rating system, provided by yours truly. My good deed for the day is done -- my coworker is protected; now armed with good information upon which to base purchasing decisions, as opposed to marketing information or her kid's opinion. The child is protected, and will not be exposed to any non-parent-approved content. And most importantly, the game company is protected. No Grand Theft Auto for that kid, and thus no litigation, keeping our game prices low. It is my sincere hope that she tells all her friends about the ESRB, spreading the good word that they don't have to guess anymore.

Videogame companies often cite the ESRB ratings when faced with accusations of creating mindless, violence-hungry zombies out of America's future generations, as well they should. The information is there for the asking, right on the front and back of every box. Clearly the overarching issues is that parents and loved ones just aren't aware.

I would urge all B A Starters to make an effort to distribute information about the ESRB to parents. It's a valuable tool in the effort to regulate America's childrens' exposure to inappropriate media, a great service to our society. Videogames have cost fifty bucks a pop for a long time now, and mainstream society's steady drive towards class action suits against game developers and distributors must be stopped if we want to keep it that way.

For the sake of our wallets, we must act. Talk to your friends to see what their awareness level is. Hold an ESRB awareness drive in your hometown. Get a float in a local parade. Hand out flyers in front of Target and Walmart (with permission, of course). I have set up a cafepress site, where you can purchase a "Save Our Games" bumper sticker -- show your support! It's up to us to make this work.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Relaxing which is good, bears good centralization

Sorry kids. Haven't had much to say recently, so I'll just send you on your merry way to this site, one of the aforementioned Japanese sites which have crossed my path recently. If my workstation looked like that... well, let's just say it would be awesome. I ran the site through Google's translator, and this is what I got:

"It relaxed supports the computer job of long time with the new work position where the up-to-date work station which Actualizes the ideal attitude which is based on body engineering research the professional model appearance"

See? Awesome.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What beautiful music they make

Dude. This story, while a bummer because this lady got conned, is hilarious. I ask the following questions:

How can vampires impregnate you with the anti-Christ? And how would pills prevent that?

How do you come up with a scheme like this? I mean, I get extortion. I get extorting someone by saying you're a vampire and will drink their blood if you don't get the moolah. I just don't get the aborted demon thing.

What if they really were vampires?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I mean, the title alone...

You may have heard a bit about the 'Hot Coffee' scandal surrounding Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Here's a quick summary -- there's a hidden mode in the game (which one must do some hacking to get to) in which your character has sex and the ESRB has pulled the game to replace it's Mature (17+) rating with an Adults Only rating. Stores are pulling it, and NY senator Hillary Clinton called for a Federal Trade Commission investigation.

I agree that if any medium has X-rated content, it should be for adults only. The fact that the mode is not accessible by people without proper tools makes this whole issue a little gray.

Here's an abbreviated list of things I have done in Grand Theft Auto 3 which are worse than having consensual sex:

  • Exceeded the speed limit.
  • Ran a stoplight.
  • Escaped from a prison transfer vehicle.
  • Driven a prostitute to a job.
  • Stolen a car.
  • Stolen a police car.
  • Jacked a car.
  • Jacked a police car.
  • Jacked an ambulance.
  • Jacked a firetruck.
  • Jacked an FBI vehicle.
  • Jacked a tank.
  • Jacked an ice cream truck.
  • Engaged in a street race.
  • Engaged in a high-speed chase.
  • Disposed of a vehicle used for a crime
  • Disposed of a vehicle with a dead body in it.
  • Located 100 stashes of drugs and exchanged them for weapons.
  • Assisted in a bank robbery.
  • Assisted in several murders.
  • Planned and executed several assassinations.
  • Solicited a prostitute, and killed her to get my money back.
  • Started a gang war in order to decrease property values.
  • Engaged in a drive-by shooting.
  • Engaged in a random drive-by shooting.
  • Killed police officers, FBI agents, and military personnel who were firing upon me.
  • Killed police officers who were not firing upon me.
  • Killed non-gang-affiliated civilians in order to attract the attention of law enforcement.
  • Killed the emergency personnel who arrived to care for these civilians.
  • Killed wantonly and without cause using a large variety of weapons, including but limited to my bare hands, a baseball bat, various guns, various incendiary devices, a flame-thrower, and a tank.
Apparently 17-year-olds hacking a program and simulating sex is more deserving of government attention than them simulating any of the acts on the above list.

Friday, July 22, 2005


If any of you had any interest in this post, be sure to swing by this site, the Coldplay X&Y Album Art Generator.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

This one might drop

Picked up Tiger Woods 2004 this weekend, which has unsurprisingly dominated my life since. Gameplay is pretty much the same as the '03 version, but a big addition was made with character customization. There's the EA Sports Game Face, which ought to be called EA Sports Try To Make Something Look Like You, Get Frustrated And Give Up Face, and a veritable stripmall's-worth of clothes. Now, the clothes serve a purpose in making money via sponsorships, but we all know they're so you can play dress-up. This brings up the age-old issue of the digital avatar. When faced with the requirement to make a character for yourself, what do you do? Make him look like you? Similar to you but cooler? Something funny? Something completely different?

No matter what you do, it's going to be embarrassing, especially when your wife catches you shopping for digital golf duds. You know what she's thinking when that happens? "How is this more interesting than hanging out with me? You'd think he could find the time to... ooh! The salmon one with the stripes! Make me! Make me!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

For someone who doesn't speak it, I've been to an unusually high number of Japanese websites recently.

There's something captivating about a site written in a non-indoeuropean language. I know we all learned in Psych 101 that linguistic differences do not mean a difference in perception -- you know, the fifteen-words-for-snow business -- but I don't buy it. For some time now, I've been under the impression that if I were to learn an Asian language, previously untapped mind potentials would be unlocked and I would transcend wisdom.

For now, I'll stick to reading up on Electroplankton.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Get some R&R?

Today I walked into the restroom to see a coworker standing at a urinal with a Blackberry in one hand and (presumably) his wang in the other. Dude, seriously. Pull yourself together.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Old business

To those of you starved for more content, I apologize. I have now linked to Goose's blog and to The Trials, one o' them moblogs. Enjoy, fellow web wackos.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

He'll save every one of us.

I'm not sure which is scarier: this dude's extensive collection of links to flash games or how many of them I had seen before. This is my favorite so far.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

You heard it here second

People have been telling me that the Buffalo Airport was closed this morning due to a weird package, and that this package contained Star Wars memorabilia. I'd like to go on the record as stating that it wasn't me.

Monday, July 11, 2005

You know you want to see 'em.

You want to know what an awesome wedding looks like? Click here.

Now, we all know I'm one sour-pussed bastard, but this event warmed even my icy heart, and I am honored and grateful to have been a part of it. This slideshow displays the pictures from my camera which came out best -- both the camera and my scanner are weak, so imagine them all a little better than they are. They show the seamy underbelly of the wedding, the iniquitous domain of college friends and other rapscallions. Oh, and I saw the note-passing, you sly dog.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

But sweet for certain

I think I'm finally getting the swing of being in wedding parties. I leave this post as a reminder to my future groomsman selves.

#1 - You don't need to get completely waffled at the rehearsal dinner. Stop doing this.
#2 - One extra handkerchief just isn't enough; consider bringing one for each groomsman. Once the sweating starts, they'll be a commodity.
#3 - Bring food, and lots of it. When people say "the limo is stocked" they don't mean with cookies.
#4 - No red wine, unless you want to be "that purple-stained tux guy".

Friday, July 08, 2005

The opposite of people

Garv posted something that all you would-be writers should check out: the DFILM moviemaker. "In 1999, DFILM launched the MovieMaker, which let users create a short animated cartoon on a website and email it to their friends." From a writer's standpoint, it is extremely limiting, and that's what makes it so intriguing. With a limit of three scenes of four different types, two characters and max six 100-character lines of dialogue per scene, how much story can you get across? The limitations force you to get to the bare bones of your story and work with the absolute basics of theater. As an example, here's Hamlet in three scenes. Not high drama, but a good exercise in composition. Also, the art is all pretty funny.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Raisin Bran and salami

For those of you (by which I mean all of you) B A Starters who don't really do the whole "go to the doctor" thing, take a look at this site. Also known as "stuff to freak out about". This site has got to be at least as dependable as asking med student friends for their medical advice over a beer and a smoke.

See? I care about you and your well-being.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sing sing sing

In God of War, half the game is getting through a series of trials to prove yourself worthy of receiving the ultimate weapon. From time to time, as you do the impossible again and again, you come across recently deceased warriors who got to a specific point and didn't hit the right switch in time to avoid being skewered (or whatever). How do the gods react to this?

Zeus: Looks like we've got a contender! He made it past the minotaur, figured out the underwater puzzle, survived the spinny blade thing...

Athena: I hope this is the guy. I'm getting tired of putting that rock back on the shoulders of the Atlas statue and rebuilding the stained glass window for every schmuck that makes it past the "endless" desert.

Zeus: Oh, this is the winner. I mean, look at him! You'd think I was his father! As a matter of fact, does he look a little like a swan to you?

Athena: Damn it! He didn't catch that second rope! I told you they were too far apart!

Zeus: Only the one who proves himself worthy can wield...

Athena: Oh, come on! Did you see how fast he figured out the move-the-rocks puzzle? This was the guy, but no... the rope swing has to be at least the length of the mighty Zeus's pinky toe! Only those who can swing the length of the Sky Father's pinky toe deserve the blessing of the gods!

Zeus: Watch it, Athy...

Athena: Or you're going to do what? Chain me to a rock and have a gecko nibble my appendix out for eternity? Who's going to help you outwit that shrewish wife of yours while I'm being punished? Huh? Who? You going to have Hephaestos build a Robo-Zeus to sit in the throne while you're chasing the mortal skirts? Think you can distract Apollo from harassing nymphs long enough to help you? Huh? Do ya?

Zeus: I'll take your owl away.

Athena: Sure you will, tough guy. Sure you will. I'm going to go see if anyone sacrificed anything worth eating. Let me know if anyone passes your test -- I'll be holding my breath.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Daily Show Host Rumored Dead

From the B A Start News Desk -- An area man displayed signs of shock and awe last night upon hearing that Jon Stewart, host of the popular parody news program The Daily Show, was dead. The events transpired at a downtown bar and restaurant at the back table. A local businessman told a joke about movie star Tom Cruise in a P-51 Mustang, a World-War-II-era fighter plane, shooting at cinema legend Jimmy Stewart, and then corrected himself when he was reminded that Stewart is no longer living. Parts of this tall tale was overheard by a friend, who expressed extreme concern and surprise at the death of Jon Stewart. Once the misunderstanding was resolved, drinking continued unabated.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


When the rest of the world is fixated on actual major, important, and awesome events in real life, you can count on B A Start to bring you back down to fantasy.

Saw a few mentions in a magazine about Okami, an upcoming PS2 title. I'm a sucker for any videogame where the visual style is new, and with its whole looks-like-a-silkscreen-painting thing, this game certainly meets that criteria. No idea how running around as a wolf will work out, but I'll let you know.

Now, you could go to the usual suspects for screenshots, movies, et cetera, but why would you when you can go right to the developer's website? Sure it's in Japanese -- that just makes it cooler!

Friday, July 01, 2005


Not four hours after Sarah points out this story to me, I run across this one. There's only one logical explanation: The Playstation 2 attracts lightning bolts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Oh man are you guys lucky. You were this close to getting an eyeful of my opinions on last night's premiere of the ABC mini-series Empire, replete with ill-founded statements along the lines of "Octavius wasn't a good-guy" and "but he just killed Pompey" and smattered with my standard list of likes/dislikes. I'll sum it up for you: I liked it, the departures from the history are well-handled and more than understandable, and if Caesar had the people's best interests in mind then I'm Jay-Z.

Fortunately for you, I saw this before I started typing and the following rant ensues: $400 for a Playstation 3? Forget it. We all know I'm mad cheap when it comes to videogames. I don't need a damn media center -- call me crazy, but I buy videogame consoles to play videogames. I don't need online play; I play videogames to get away from jackasses. Why would I add jackassery to my gaming by going online? Yeah, sure the graphics will be great, but just how damn realistic do we want games to be? So, you're going to make assloads of titles about zombies, magic ninjas, aliens and whatnot and tell me how realistic the games are? And I do mean assloads -- several iterations of the number of games an ass can carry. Maybe if I played Madden I'd give a couple shits about how well-rendered the chest-hair of that fat dude with a ramhead painted on his beergut is, but I don't so I don't.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Stories all o'er the nets* telling us that the code on cover of X&Y has been cracked, that it's based on an old telegraph code. What they don't say often is that the key was included in the liner notes. I say the following:

#1: To Coldplay's label: Weak. Let the geeks go all geek on it. Let the legend grow, all mysterious-like. Better press that way.
#2: To the news sites: More weak. That's not news, that's a cryptoquip.
#3: To Coldplay:

*The best story I've seen on it is here, if you're that bored.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I hate that turn.

How do you know when you play videogames too much?

I have never watched a NASCAR race. Today I went to a family member's house for dinner and NASCAR was being watched. As I sat to partake, the cars sped around a turn that looked all too familiar. "Hey, I've raced this track. Infineon Raceway, right?" Odd looks, I tell you. My love affair with GT4 strikes again.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Finished Ico

Yorda! Yorda? Yorda?!?! YORDAAAAAAAAAA!


Very much

Do you miss my GT4 pics? I set up a Flickr slideshow for 'em. Your life is now fulfilled.

Sign of the times

At a social event last night, I ended up in a conversation about music. This is usually a good tack when at a party and you don't know many people -- there's always that guy who likes music. We did not, as one might expect, go through the normal ritual of do-you-know-this-band, did-you-hear-that-album kind of stuff. Instead we talked about mp3 players, subscription services, and XM radio. Conclusion: for this brief period of entertainment history, how we get our music is more interesting than what we listen to.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Even more boring than regular baseball.

Okay. So, the first two innings of a minor league baseball game will be played on the Xbox, and the other seven will be played by the real teams. Local fanboys have been competing at CompUSA (where else?) to be holding the controllers for those first two innings.

#1 - This is lame.

#2 - Here's my favorite part of the story: "The idea for the promotion came from the 6-year-old niece of Bryan Williams, director of community relations for the T-Bones."

How did this go?

"Unkoo Bwyan! You pway game!"

"What's that, honeybunch?"

"You pway game on TV!"

"Yes, that's right. I play games on the TV. Videogames. That's why my brother got to marry your mommy and I still live with mine."

"You pway game wif men outside!"

"Uh huh, I play baseball in real life too. Well, sometimes the guys let me go get the foul balls for them."

"You pway boaf!"

"Yes, honey, I play both."

"You pway boaf! You pway boaf!"

"Wait a minute -- that's a great idea! We can play videogames AND real baseball at the same time! You're a genius Rita-Mae!"

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Take the elevator.

I've been playing Ico, a fantastically good art-piece title for the PS2. It's just as good as Penny Arcade promises. Yesterday, a friend lent me God of War to try on for size. While I have heard that this also is rather awesome and will get to it eventually, I'm not really in the mood to rip the wings off sirens right now. Apparently, I'm more in the mood to be a twelve-year-old oddly-horned boy and wander around an enchanted castle holding the hand of a quiet ghost princess. Weird.

Support your local flash developer.

Need another web game to get addicted to? Swing over here and play Poom!. Brought to you by the UB College Store, apparently.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Just look at the way I decorate my house.

Memed again. I don't know if I ever did the last one.

Number of books I've owned: Holy Heaven. Okay, I'll try to estimate. Let's say...

Fifty kids books. (Pokey Little Puppy, etc)
Twenty Hardy Boys.
Twenty Oz.
Twenty books bought in high school.
Thirty super-cheap "classics"

Fifteen books a semester for four years of college = 120
Twenty books in the last three years.

I'm going to go ahead and say roughly 300.

Last book I bought: I just bought a book today called The Mathematical Experience. The hospital I work at has an occasional used book sale fundraiser, and I saw it there. No idea if its any good or not.

Last book I read: The Code Book. History of crypto.

Five books that mean a lot to me:

Gates of Fire. 100% brilliant. Whenever anyone asks me for a book to read, this is what I tell them. I have two copies, and one of them has seen a lot of loaning action.

Dune. Science-fiction's supreme masterpiece. One of the few perfect books ever written. Could have been titled How to Become a God in Three Easy Steps.

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. I do not own a copy of this book, but you can always count on Bartleby. Remarkable collection of entries on a wide variety of topics in story and history.

The Hero with A Thousand Faces. Perhaps not surprising considering my previous post.

D'aulaires Book of Greek Myths. I received two different copies of this for my seventh birthday, and I credit it directly with starting off the series of events that made me what I am today.

I'll leave this open-ended. You got a blog and you want to write about this? Go for it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Roll credits

My issues with Episodes I and II of Star Wars are well-documented, and anyone who knows me will be happy to tell you that they tried to convince me that they were due to some fault of my own, that I went in to the movies with my standards held too high. Time and again I was told to just go and enjoy the movies instead of expecting anything.

As one should with trusted friends, I took their advice with Episode III, and enjoyed it far more than the others, despite the fact that my issues remained. I forgave the litany of transgressions and sat back to let the Force-filled goodness wash over me.

As the fight on the volcano was about to start, I remembered reading somewhere as a kid -- a young kid, as this was before Jedi came out -- that the events which took place there were the reason Vader was a machine. I realized at that moment that something I had been looking forward to since childhood was about to transpire. As I was already pleased with my experience, I was in a good mindset to see a scene that even my critical eye would see as canon. I had already seen the worst of how far these movies could get from "good" so what could go wrong?

"Either you are with me, or you are my enemy."
"Only Sith speak in absolutes."

So, as the killing stroke, Lucas decided to throw in politics. Up until then, my issues with departures from my concept of the original vision were based exclusively in the world he created. My own politics aside, the fact he would use his movies as a soapbox to discuss current events is a slap in the face to someone who took his opus as a stand-alone. He went into this with the concept that if Campbell's hero-journey applies to all people at all times in all lands, then a new story with flashy effects could take the lessons of those old stories and bring them to a wider audience. He ended by attacking the statements of one man in present-day America.

As it turns out, my friends were right; I did take these movies far more seriously than anyone should have. I bought into the concepts of the original trilogy, and should have abandoned them when seeing the latest.

Your stories are in another castle.

I don't own the 'Cube or the DS, but I keep going back to this site. I think it's because I really like the banner.

In other Nintendo-related news, Link is story of the day on Wikipedia. Surpisingly extensive. I'd have a hard time saying much more about Link than "well, he's got a shield and a sword and dresses like Robin Hood. And he's a pretty good choice in Smash Bros."

Friday, June 17, 2005

It has come to this

Dear Hot Topic -

While I have appreciated your efforts to provide videogame-related clothing to the consumer, you appear to have just slightly missed my particular niche. I am in the market for a style which can best be described as "subversive." I want clothes which advertise the fact that I intensely geeky to those in the know, but appear fairly normal to the rest of society.

Allow me to give an example. I saw in your establishment a T-shirt which read "Halo 2", and another which had the shield/swords/alien skull symbol for the Legendary difficulty setting from Halo and read "Legendary" in small type underneath. The latter of these is getting closer to what I'm talking about. Blatantly stating "I play and enjoy Halo 2" is not as cool. Are you with me?

Here is what I would like to see from you: a series of unassuming polo shirts with corporate logos embroidered on the right breast, but the logos are from the evil corporations from various videogames. For starters, whip a few for Shinra Incorporated, Datadyne, and the Umbrella Corporation.

You see, the market is now flooded with people for whom videogames have been a part of their entire lives, people like myself who are getting a bit old to be dressing like teenagers. Pac-man himself turns 25 this month, a sobering fact. Please keep us in mind in the future. After all, we don't have to ask our parents for money.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Let me count the ways

Ben. While the ode has become something of a lost art in this era of perpetual rants, in which we have decided to no longer define ourselves by what we like but rather by what we can find fault with, like teenagers who think that disliking everything makes ne sophisticated, I offer this meager post to you and your 100.

You brought us the small orange bottle full of insect-repellent liquid, the only fluid that has ever successfully kept insects from sucking my blood and feeding it to their parasitic young. Brewed with care in my homeland of New Hampshire, I can find no fault with Ben's 100. The very sight of your product brings to mind of painless and swat-free summer nights, and for those I thank you.

I have heard the reverent legends that state your elixir was discovered by accident as you tried to make a solvent for rubber, and I say "good show". I have seen the rubber-melting abilities of your wonderful creation, having used it to improve the seal on bottles of fuel with success.

Your detractors ignore the tremendous debt society has towards you. They say it is a violation of Federal law to use your life's great work in a manner inconsistent with its labelling. They say it is a hazard to humans and domestic animals. They tell us not to apply it to the hands of young children, and that they should not be allowed to handle your product at all. With one breath they say it can cause substantial eye injury, and in the next that the alleged injury is temporary. They tell to never place unused Ben's 100 down any indoor or outdoor drain, as if anyone would throw this boon to humanity away!

To those who would say such things, I offer this warning: change your ways. See Ben's 100 for the man-made miracle it is, and put aside your petty claims that it should be stored in a "cool, dry (preferably locked) storage area inaccessible to children and pets", that one should call his local solid waste agency for disposal instructions. There is still time for you to cease your slander and offer Ben the praise he deserves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Things I have done in the past few days which I have never done before (summarized):

Gone to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Stopped at Roanoke Island, site of the lost colony, Virginia Dare, and all that. It had been on my list of places to see, and I had no idea it was on the way -- added bonus.

Ate mahi mahi, which is apparently not dolphin meat. At least that's what they told me.

Had someone ask me how my food tasted. I had heard of this bizarre waitstaff ritual, but never experienced it first hand. It took all the self-control I could muster not to say "like fish, jackass".

Found myself in the possession of one of those oval-shaped white stickers that yuppies put on their cars because they look like the European country-of-origin stickers. I had a feeling this might happen one day.

Had Budweiser Select. Give it a try -- s'good.

Heard that Garv caught a fish. Way to work, dude.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Famicom alone!

OK. Looks like the recent rumors circulating about the next Nintendo console -- codenamed Revolution -- will have all previous console releases available for free download is not true. Apparently, some old NES, SNES, and N64 games will be made available for purchase through an online service or some such thing.

Considering the retro-gaming mood I've been in recently, I came dangerously close to losing it when I heard the rumors. I mean, every game for every system? Yowza. Just think of all the Mega Man titles I never got to play! I didn't have a Super Nintendo -- who knows what goodness I missed!

Is it wrong that a large percentage of my childhood memories are 8-bit?

Monday, June 06, 2005

City of Dream

Here's another link for you all. Buffalo Rising Journal has joined the ranks of the various blogs, videogame/movie news sites, et alis that make up my list of daily reads. So go check it out.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


The new background: too much?

Beep beep zip bang

Today I offer you this story on Extreme Tech advising the reader on a way to speed things up on the ol' PC. It details the use of the Intel Application Accelerator, a small utility which streamlines the data flow between the storage devices and the processor. Considering the many times I have found myself tearing my hair and gnashing my teeth at all hours of the morning as I tried desperately to undo my own attempts at PC improvement, I was a little nervous to use this thing, but I gave it a go, said a prayer to ward off the Blue Screen, and met with success. If you decide try it, make sure you read the Extreme Tech article and all of the documentation/warnings from Intel first, of course. I have noticed improved speeds on my machine, and nothing's blown up so far.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Swing your arms

Do me a favor and keep your eyes open for this Beck EP. I tried New World Record, and those pretentious, horn-rimmed minors had nuthin'. Now if this were a for-real serious blog, I'd have done all kinds of research about the EP and would be communicating it to you with wit and aplomb. Unfortunately for you, all I have to say is that it's got four songs from Guero remixed using Nintendo music and it's totally rad. Oh, and give you the Rhapsody link. Make sure you listen to the last one -- it's the best of them.

Also on the retrogaming front, go check this out. Some art exhibit in LA featuring pieces based on old games. My favorite's the Qbert one. A few more pics of it here.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Mystical? Maybe.

No posts since Sunday? Good gravy. So just what the heck have I been doing?

Monday: Moving someone in. Playing wiffleball.
Tuesday: Work, looking at a fire.
Wednesday: Work, store, playing Tiger Woods.

Fill any gaps in with "sitting on the porch enjoying the good weather" and that's a pretty accurate picture.

If you haven't already, go over to outgrabes and check out the latest. 100% awesome. You know why it's cool to have an artist in your life? They use you as a model.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

What is this?

Her Worshipfulness has a problem. While my addictions tend towards stuff you put in your body, hers relates to things you put on it. Without doing any rummaging, I can bring to mind ten different bottles of goo she applies to her skin and hair on a daily basis. Does one really need a separate lotion used singly for one's elbows?

The woman wears neither makeup nor jewelry, so my concern is not at all for expense, but rather for the inevitable results of my own clumsiness. No sudden movements can be made in our bathroom without serious risk of bottle scatter and explosion.

For example, this morning as I showered I removed my shampoo from the hangy-thing. One might think this not to be a risky venture, but not so. In a Goldbergian series of events, the shampoo turned out to be the primary support for a bottle of "calming" soap which kicked out its bottom to the side, knocking a metal canister of compressed pink shit rapidly out the back of the wire structure, leading to much banging and clanging. As anyone living with a woman will tell you, unexpected noises are usually met with bitching of similar volume. And trust me, if in this situation, don't go for the "you have too many damn bottles" approach. Does. Not. Work.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

All growed up

You're not a man until you can wear a lime green polo shirt.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

As you feel

Yesterday someone I've worked with since '99 came by my desk for the first time in ages. She remarked a the picture thumbtacked into the bulletin-board wall of my cube, the picture of myself holding a large fish circa summer 2002. Readers who have been around since the classic B A Start era may remember this post, in which I discuss the benefits of having this picture in my office. This time, though, my guest's response took me completely by surprise.

"Wow, look how young you look in that picture."

It's happening.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

If there was any doubt

These are really, really good.

Monday, May 23, 2005


This morning, as I brought my finished bowl of raisin bran to the sink, the milk swished around to reveal a single missed raisin. Is that an omen? And if so, of what? A potentially missed opportunity? If tea leaves can tell your future, I assume the same holds true for other consumable breakfast liquids in which things float.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Had a conversation about vodka martini's last night. This led me to try to back up the "fact" I heard somewhere that the vodka martini was invented by James Bond (well, technically that the gin-less vodka martini invented by the Smirnoff company after they got into bed with the Bond movie people), which brought me to a site about the various brands of booze Bond has imbibed, which pointed me to this site about just why the Commander wants his martinis shaken as opposed to stirred, which led me to this treasure trove. If you're like me and look at this accessible list of alcohol recommendations as a checklist , you don't have a problem -- you have a solution.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Push 'em.

Now this is some great marketing. Anyone surprised I'm posting about this? What with the name of this blog and everything?

For those of you not pathetically geeky enough to get it, Sony is advertising their upcoming Playstation 3 here with a riff off of their four buttons "Live in your world. Play in ours." campaign. By lopping a few lines off of their well-established set of symbols, they obfuscate them just enough to make even my nerd eye have to look twice before figuring it out. Turn the "e" backwards to get a "3", and you've got one hell of a billboard. Good work, Sony people. Now make a wallpaper with those symbols on it and post it online for me to download. While you're at it, send me some cool swag. You know, something subtle but not so obscure that no one in the world would ever get it. I love you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The pin is quivering.

I bring you a tale of Tiger Woods. Well, more of an image, really. Some time ago, a college friend came back into town for a few days and swung by the apartment to catch up on some much-needed videogame competition. I introduced him to Tiger Woods PGA Tour for the Xbox, a game which quickly devours the soul of all who play it -- so fun, so addictive. He quickly built a character -- Fish -- and hit the links with vigor. Another friend came by to join in the fun, bringing with him a memory stick with the Alpha and the Omega of TW gameplay: his character, Victor Cracker.

You see, Victor Cracker is to TW what a god is to mortals. When he descends from the realm of the ideal and interferes with the lives of men, he leaves a wake of destruction and lamentation. Tales of the visit last for generations. But, like gold inlaid over silver, Victor Cracker only augments the remarkable skill of his human. The guy's got an unnatural knack for the game, and having a maxed-out character only adds to the point spread.

So, we play a few rounds and Victor Cracker dominates. Everyone is fine, we shake hands and say good night.

The next day, Fish is back. Something is different, though. His hands are as still as stone, and in his eye can be seen a faint gleam. He had come this day to topple Cracker. We call Victor's human avatar and insist he come back for a rematch. At the end of the first round of play, Victor's given name proves to be well-earned.

In the middle of the second and final round, Victor Cracker unsurprisingly makes a magnificent shot, and the commentator responds with a loud "ooooh!". TW has commentators judging your every shot, delivering a large number of phrases such as "should have used the nine-iron here" or "that's straight at it, Billy". The "ooooh" was new, and two of us found it quite funny.

So, the image I present to you is of a lean, hungry man in the zone, possessed by the thought of ending a dynasty, stretched forward and focused on the TV with the steadiness of an eagle diving after its prey, flanked by two grown men who can't stop saying "ooooh! No, no, it was like 'ooooooh!'" and laughing heartily.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Keep your nose clean.

As I was going through the airport security checkpoint on my way back from the conference, a woman with three children was behind me in line. As I took my laptop out of its bag so they could do whatever it is they do to it (can’t x-rays see through laptop bags?), one of these kids, let’s say ten years old, comments on it.

“Nice laptop”.

“Thanks,” I replied, instead of asking how we could tell what model it is just by looking at the top of it or grilling him on whether the IT department’s recommendation to purchase this one was valid since he was clearly an authority on the topic. “It’s work’s. I get to use it, though.”

“Yeah, just like my dad.”

“Look, kid. Just because when I was your age my father was younger than I am now doesn’t mean I should have a ten-year-old running around. Times are different now. Not a single one of my friends has a kid. Not high-school friends, not college friends, nobody! No one has kids before thirty anymore!

"High-school and college educations don’t pack the same punch they used to, so to be at the same level our parents were at, my generation need initials after our names. So, while we’re scrambling to get to the level our parents were at when they were 21 (single income family, homeowner, had a functional car, ate three meals a day, etc), images of little tykes like you linger in the backs of our minds. We wonder if we’re too late. If we don’t have kids soon, the likelihood of having them drops off pretty sharply, and then what will happen when we’re elderly? Who will tend to us in our golden years? Who, you little bastard, who?!?

"I mean, I don't even want to have kids, but if I do, the family unit has been so scattered by high divorce rates, affordable transportation, and easy communication that a family is little more than obligation and guilt. We’re all alone in the world. Nevermind the fact that religion has become the domain of rednecks and none of us believe in an afterlife anymore. What’s the point of any of it? Answer me!”

At this point I realized I was holding the kid several feet off the ground by his lapels and screaming in his face. I put him back on the ground, tousled his hair, and gave him a quarter before walking off to my flight.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Misplaced apostrophes do that.

You'll note I added a link to Lisa's blog, it's a marshmallow world. So go check it out.

When I wrote that sentence, I typoed "Lisa's" into Lis'a, making it look as if I had linked to a blog written by a member of an interstellar army bent on the destruction of Earth and all of its inhabitants. "Followers of Lis'a, attack!"

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Slow Fade

A few brief anecdotes about my trip.

#1 - When eating in the outdoor mall a few blocks from the hotel, I couldn't help but notice the heaters near the tables. It was at least seventy degrees out. On an unrelated note, the teriyaki chicken was indeed yummy yummy yummy as advertised by what I can only describe as one of the fast-food barkers in the food court.

#2 - There were ten US flags visible from my hotel balcony.

#3 - I ended up watching a bit of Adult Swim over the last couple days. While most of the shows are either poorly animated or unfunny, I enjoyed several of the remainder. One of my favorites is The Big O, a good-looking show with tolerable dialogue and very big robots. Now, anime shows are, of course, fairly deep into the realm of geek, but I don't hide my affinity for them. Especially not this show. My wife loves it, so I have carte blanche to enjoy The Big O.

The only interesting part of this story is the fact that I stated the previous sentence rather loudly at breakfast yesterday morning, well within earshot of dozens of people.