Saturday, April 30, 2005

Let's put this to bed.

A surprisingly heated debate took place between some friends the other day on where the movie Underworld is set. Opinions were as follows:

London, because they have British accents. Clearly wrong, since the subway has none of those Mind The Gap warnings.

America, because the non-vampires (Michael and his co-worker) have US accents, the two great covens are divided by "a great ocean", and there are Bacardi posters. Also wrong, because of the following.

Somewhere in Eastern Europe, because Michael's street address looks like it would be in Eastern Europe.

Here's the straight dope. Michael Corvin's address listed as "Laktos Joszef 39 ut." In Hungarian, utca means "street" and uttest means "road". Also, the movie was filmed in Budapest.

On related notes, Jonathan Harker's journal entries in Dracula start with him arriving in Budapest and there is a Corvinus University in Budapest.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Here's something for the geeks. Want to be like Michael Bolton of Office Space, but just can't get into rap? I recommend this album. Whether you realize it or not, you know who Del the Funky Homosapien (alternate spelling "tha funkee") is. Since you're a geek, I know you've played Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3. Remember skating to this song about personal hygiene? That's Del. Your geekiness also reveals that you have at least tried to like the band Gorillaz despite the fact their music isn't particularly notable. Who can resist a band that only exists in animation? Their most recognizable song is
Clint Eastwood, featuring Del. You should give one of his albums a listen, as he raps mainly about playing videogames and/or getting high.

Deltron 3030, the album recommended above, is a space opera about a former mechsoldier who battles the powers that control the galaxy. I mean, come on. It's great stuff, but you don't want to get caught rocking out to it. "Look at that geek listening to rap music -- what a poser. Wait a minute, did I just hear the word 'plasteel'?". So close the blinds, crank the speakers, and enjoy it before anyone notices.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Go ahead -- turn it on.

Happy TV-Turnoff Week everybody. Every minute you're not watching TV is a minute you're paying for and not using, so give the cable company what they want. While you're at it, go buy dinner and throw it out the window of your car.

I have no idea why TV gets such a bad rap. You know what people did with their free time before TV? Sat on the porch and watched nothing go by. Sat and watched the fireplace. It's not as if the pre-TV era was a golden age of physical activity and intellectual stimulation which was replaced by zombiism because we are all too dumb to turn away from a glowing light. People have always sat on their asses, and will continue to do so until Judgement.

My favorite part of the story on TV-Turnoff Week is the content-sensitive ad bar that points you to places to buy televisions.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Forty fakirs

After trying once again and once again failing to read The Arabian Nights, I find myself with a question. You see, Aladdin gets his hands on a magic ring and a magic lamp, either of which when rubbed will cause a genie to appear and give him anything he wants. Everyone knows that the genie only offers three wishes, but this is not so in the version I read. So, when did this limitation get added on? I'm filing this next my long-standing question of when Atlantis changed from the destroyed city to the city in the bubble on the ocean floor: in the folder labelled "Stuff You'll Never Know".

Friday, April 22, 2005

Cultural unit

Rumor has it I have been memed, meaning that I must answer a question and pass the question on. Okey dokey.

What is the stupidest thing I have ever done? Most of my stupid doings are those of omission -- forgetting things or not keeping track of them. I stuck my fingers in an outlet once. Backed into a concrete post. There was the phone number incident.

Myself and a dozen other Boy Scouts from around the US were backpacking in New Mexico for two weeks. I was the leader, and had the maps. One day, we had a particularly difficult hike ahead of us -- up and down two mountains for a total of about twenty miles. When we reached the top of the first mountain, I picked the wrong trail. Long story short, we spent too many hours walking the wrong way in painful heat and a kid almost died.

And there you have it, the stupidest thing I've ever done. The moral of the story is "don't give Alex the map," an adage which has held true for every one of the thirteen years since that event. And now comes the part where I pass it on:

Jess, Emily, and the madcap band of misfits that is Webshite.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Revelations was ok

Tonight's entertainments were about going back to things I thought were good and discovering I was mistaken.

First, the movie Goldeneye -- the first Bond movie with Brosnan and the basis of my all-time favorite videogame. This should be good, right? As it turns out, 80's action movie music, unattractive Bond girls, and general cheesiness do not a good film make. I don't think a single good Bond flick has been made post-Connery.

Second, Jedi Academy. In an attempt to temporarily stave off the creeping Star Wars madness, I rented this game for the Xbox today. I loved its predecessor, so my expectations were high. Yikes. The graphics are terrible, I can't stand hearing my character say "hup" every damn time he jumps, and if I walk by one more bad guy while waving my lightsaber all around him without touching him, I refuse to be held responsible for my actions.

On an only slightly related note, I have this to look forward to. Must... keep expectations... low....

And, to wrap up, after years of sitting idly by as I watch the movies and spend disgusting numbers of hours playing the games, my wife has had to listen to the James Bond theme song more than any woman in the world.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

So near.

If you weren't already aware of it, Radiohead's The National Anthem is one of the greatest accomplishments mankind has achieved to date.

Monday, April 18, 2005

As you may have guessed

You know what I don't have? Any clothes appropriate for warm weather. Now, before you throw your hands up and yell "shopping spree" in a sing-sing tone, think on this. I hate buying clothes. Having clothes is fine, but getting them... no so much. I estimate I purchase between four and five individual pieces of clothing in a year, and that's if you count 3-packs of boxers as three. Maybe it's some kind of identity thing, or something as simple as ignorance as to what looks presentable. Either way, I'm completely useless.

Maybe I'll just start wearing my work clothes all day and eliminate the problem completely. I recently limited my selection of work shirts to white and white alone, when matching ties to patterned shirts proved more than my pre-coffee consciousness could wrestle with successfully. Why not extend this to post-work? I just remove the tie Ken-style and I'm ready for an evening on the town. I'll keep away from stain-likely foods, buy some more comfortable work shoes, and be in business. What say you now, Men's section? I stand in defiance of your stripey tyranny!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

You'll have to guess the other two.

Having been raised amidst entertainments of a number unseen in times prior, this generation of nerds speaks in a language composed primarily of references. Where the conversations of our forenerds were sprinkled with Bible passages and Latin phrases, or where those of our nerdy parents were limited to Monty Python and Firesign Theater quotes, ours are flooded with lines from the limitless movies and television shows which made the corpus of text to which we were exposed while growing up. This being the case, we love to get someone else's references and to have ours understood. As in all things, there are degrees to this tendency, ranging from the occasional quote by the more reserved to full scene recreations by the most unabashedly geeky.

The men who have given this guilty nerdy pleasure literary credibility are Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, writers of the Sandman and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series respectively. In Sandman, Gaiman uses his remarkable knowledge of mythology and folklore to create a backdrop for his characters, littering his world with characters from the legends of all lands, from the goddess Bast to the drunken fairy Cluracan. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen overflows with a surfeit of references to Victorian fantasy literature. The depth and complexity of these references are truly astonishing, and no one without a PhD in Vic lit stands a chance at getting all of them, let alone most.

I just read Gaiman's 1602, a miniseries in which the characters of the early Marvel universe are in Exploration Age Europe, living at constant risk of being exposed and killed for heresy and witchcraft. In typical style, Gaiman makes his puzzles just difficult enough to keep you wondering if caught everything. Reading reminded me of how frustrating (who is the super-fast kid supposed to be?!?) and nerdily rewarding (two riders on the same horse! I get it!) his stuff can be.

It also gave me opportunity to indulge in one of the pleasures I can refer to only as "guiltiest": comic book annotations. After discovering Sandman and LoEG annotations online, the secrets unravelled before me. I could enjoy all of the subtleties of the works, without having to acquire a lifetime's worth of knowledge. They taught me quite a bit, and pointed me towards stories I never would have come across on my own.

That being said, spending a spring Saturday afternoon reading online comic book annotations is about the third-nerdiest thing I have ever done.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I'm a sucker for flash games.

I am 100% fried. Not much to say for now, so go entertain yourself with this. Only entertaining with the sound on.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Nothing to be concerned about, I'm sure

Okay. I'm out smoking. Beat-up, rusting car rumbles up, Billie Holiday music blaring. White male, late-thirties early forties, balding, 200 lbs, opens the car door and pours liquid onto the street. He gets out of the vehicle, closes the door, then kicks the door to fully close it. He is wearing the short coat of an MD in training and has a stethoscope slung over his neck. He lights a cigarette and walks briskly down the middle of the road. He walks to a sidewalk, doubles back to toss the cigarette, and walks into a house. He's a killer, right? Aren't all balding white males who act erratically killers? And the Billie Holiday? That's straight psycho shit.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Just read a manga online. This became much easier once I remembered to read right-to-left.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Look at me

Remember this post? The one that got the attention of the Rhapsody guy? Well, here's a little more food for playlist-posting thought

"The researchers found that people actively work to create an image of themselves through the music they make available to others, just as they might by buying a new car or showing off a cell phone."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Common themes

Here's what I remember from last night's dream. I was staying in a hotel with a large group of people, a high school trip or something. The hotel was a converted seaside manor, all narrow hallways and oddly shaped rooms. I was in a room which had clearly been decorated by a goth kid -- punk posters and dark plaid. After lights out, a white cat with very short hair went around to all the doors to check that they were closed -- I saw his paws push against the thin paper of the door. My room was long and had a couple entrances, one of which had been left open a crack. The cat came in, jumped on the desk and started knocking things over. I tossed him out and closed the door.

Next scene, my roommate (my wife?) and I had snuck out and were on the porch walking around in the dim pre-sunrise light. As I passed in front of a glass-panel door, I saw what the cat was protecting us from. Something that looked like one of the Dementors from Azkaban darted into the room, hovering horizontally and searching for something, his black figure silhouetted against the blue light of the large windows across the room.

As his field of vision passed over me, I yelled "get down" and dropped to the floor as the thing, which I remember calling Dracula, flew towards us at great speed. I think there was a scythe involved.

Monday, April 04, 2005

I'll turn this car around.

Vacation with kids appears to be something entirely different from vacation without them. For me, the big V comes rarely and is usually synonymous with "bender". There is much sitting. With little tykes to contend with, though, vacations sound like just a different flavor of obligation. The relaxing becomes arduous, the pleasant unbearable.

One big difference is the car ride. A friend of mine told me that he took his kids to Brooklyn to visit his family there, and that hooking the Playstation up to the TV screen in his SUV made the ride easy peasy. They only made one stop, if you can imagine.

Now, I'm a proponent of letting the little tykes play video games until the blisters on their fingers pop (Do the kids these days even get blisters, what with the ergonomic controllers popular these days? It's not like their puerile hands need to suffer the square controllers of the NES anymore.), but I don't know if I back the PS2 on the car ride. Learning to keep quiet for the endless hours of a car ride is an important part of the development of the American child. We all remember sitting and staring out the window, making games out of nothing and not pestering the parents. Isn't that a fond memory?

Sunday, April 03, 2005


The battle between Alex and the blog format continues. Damned if I can figure out color schemes. I tried the high-contrast approach, but that's just cruel. Now I'm back to the blue, but with a high-contrast banner. This looks weird. Guess I'll just keep messin'. Don't be too surprised if you see a rainbow of colors over the next few days.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


Here's a little redesign for you. No new content, but new format -- that's still good, right?

Friday, April 01, 2005

A few more years, at least.

Today's lunch-time conversation: is it possible to sin in Purgatory? Assuming you buy all that crap. "According to the Catholic Church, is it possible to sin in Purgatory?" is the correct phrasing, I guess. If after death, the faithful are submitted to the refining fires of Purgatory to cleanse them of their sins before entering Heaven, is it possible for them to sin during the duration of their stay?

Answer: No, because the Devil is not present in Purgatory. Thus he cannot tempt Man, causing him to sin.

I don't buy this. If I'm writhing around in the agonising flames of God's love, I can still dishonor my parents. As a matter of fact, I'd say it's pretty likely that I would.