Thursday, March 30, 2006


You know the archetypal image of two men carrying a large, fragile, thin rectangle down a city street? Like a mirror, pane of glass, or painting? A new incarnation of this classic appeared on the sidewalk the other day as I drove home from work. I saw the two guys. I saw the oversized rectangle. It took me a moment to see, though, that it was a big honkin' plasma TV.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

On the dotted line

Is it too late for me to change my signature? My written one, I mean.

About fifteen years ago I was impressed into signing my name several hundred times in a row. By the end of that, the sig had gone from a 14-letter scrawl to an unintelligible scribble. What happens if I decide to change how I do it? Let's say I do some drills for a week or so to make sure the new style is consistent. What happens on the rare occasions someone checks the back of my credit card? Would they believe me?

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Always did have a problem with names. In my various writing projects throughout the years, I have consistently dreaded the moment at which I must choose a name for a person or a place, the cursor blinking at me as if the computer was drumming its fingers. I used the same first name for the main character in the last several stories I've put to paper (or whatever the modern equivalent of that idiom should be. Wait a minute, isn't that what writers are for? Let's just call it "put to text" for now) . Ages ago I was in an online writer's group hosted by an author, and on Q&A day the only question I had was how he picked names. It's a bit of an issue.

So, here I am writing something new, and trying to hoard words that make good place names. (Serenity and Firefly are littered with superior examples: Whitefall, Maidenhead, etc.) Over the last few days, it's become something of an OCD-freakout. Every written word, every song lyric, every combination of phonemes I've exposed to has been put to the test. Eating Lay's potato chips? "Classic Station...". Listening to music? "Tourbus Station...". Blogging? "Dashboard Station...". So, if you see me and notice a glazed-over look as you're speaking, don't be concerned. When I make my millions, I'll give you a dime if I use a shard of your vocab as a place name.

Shard Station...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

On the Fly

Damn it, Nintendo. You came frighteningly close to changing the world.
Why? "Why?" I ask you. Why could you not go the extra step? You make the DS. You give it a touch screen and some decent processing power. You wave that special wand of yours, the one that has "The Breaker of Ground" etched down the side, and bless the thing with wireless connectivity.

Visions of people on subways having pick-up games of Mario Basketball during their commutes, of people at coffee-shops wi-fiing it up to race against their friends in Budapest, Lima, and Des Moines, of heply-dressed urban teens walking down clean sidewalks with your machines in their long hands flickered in your eyes. A gaming revolution.

As what I assume must have been a throw-away feature, you toss in Pictochat, the software that sets up local chatroom so kids can IM each other during recess. And here's where you flub it up. You can now compose messages on your handheld device, but the wi-fi doesn't work for it. Users can't IM each other over the internet. I can type up an email, but can't send it to anyone.

I've done a decent amount of composition on PDAs. It's great -- you can get a few lines down wherever you are. My PDA went all fritzy recently and had to be sent to the Heaven of Broken Electronics That An Unmarried Geek Would Keep In a Box Somewhere But A Married Geek Throws Away. And here I am with a handheld electronic device with a primitive word processor on it, and damned if I want to keep what I write. One half as expensive as a PDA, and which runs games with great awesomeness. I'm not even asking that you put a calendar etc. in there (which of course you should). Just unlock the stuff you've already got.

Fie on you, Nintendo.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Wearing-down of the Green

Eleven and one half hours. That's how long I celebrated St. Pat's (read: all aspects of my self-destructive behavior) last night. Kudos to Lisa for being there and sober for the entire damn thing. I mean, you out-lasted sixteen people who came and left over the night. Krieky.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Oh my god my neurons.

There's nothing left upstairs. I wish I could claim some belfry bats, but I'm afraid they've all gotten themselves shot out of the sky by a more advanced technology. Jess has detailed our media consumption over the last few days; now add to this my as-of-last-week-rekindled interest in an extremely out of print college textbook anthology of science fiction stories which has withstood my flirtations for the last decade or so, about five hours of interminable presentations-turned-seminar in the last couple days, and the creeping feeling that the story concept that came to mind between Scrubs and Boston Legal has been irrevocably erased, and you can imagine the precise consistency of mush my brain has reduced itself to.

So what to do? A little word sandwich ought to hit the spot.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Dear videogame creators:

Please create more situations in which players on the same team can physically interact. Of note: in X-men Legends, where, for example, Storm can pick up characters and fly him around. This adds a new element to a game, and not just a co-operative play element. It gives the players opportunity to bug the hell out of each other.

The prime example is the fastball special, a move in which Colossus picks Wolverine up and hurls him towards the enemy. This ability was meant to be used for attack, but is far more entertaining when used for multiplayer annoyance. Bored with saving civilian mutants from Sentinels? Why not chase Wolverine around and throw him against things? The verbal ping-pong game of "get-back-here-you-little" versus "would-you-stop-it" adds new interactivity. Colossus getting out of hand? Take Jean airborne and try to catch Colossus, creating a game of dog-and-cat-and-mouse. Great fun for all players.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wenh-wenh dzzt.

An old laptop appeared under my desk today, it being my responsibility to retire it apparently. I booted up the old dodger, and heard this sound. I wouldn't have thought Windows 98 sounds were old enough to rate as Geek Nostalgia, but between my laughter and my associate's baffled questioning as to just what I could possibly be doing, it appears I was incorrect.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

For relaxing times...

Too much? I don't think so. Can you imagine living in a culture where videogames were so prevalent that this commerical would make sense to enough people to merit airtime? I can. I would call it the United Republic of B A Start readers.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Drop the snitch

Goblet of Fire comes out on DVD Tuesday. I'm hoping for some deleted scenes featuring the World Cup. The theatrical release of the movie alluded to professional-level quidditch without showing any action. I know it wouldn't have advanced the plot at all in an already lengthy movie, but two fewer minutes of prom replaced by two minutes of awesome would have been an improvement.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Created by Man

Dude at work likes Battlestar Galactica, as do I. As we stood outside of my boss's office with three other co-workers, he asks me, sheepish and furtive: "Did you see BSG on Sunday?"

Difficult sitcheeation. I don't want to blow this guy off. I also don't want to be that guy who watches Battlestar Galactica, and have to launch into a soliloquoy about how no, it's not the one from the seventies, yes, it's very good, no, there is no robot dog.

I risked it, discussing the show in broad terms and quickly changing the subject. Come on, man; discussing the finer points of the rebirth of the two Cylons who have played major roles in the conflict? That's cube-talk.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


How important is an apostrophe, you ask? Allow me to display.

"Know that thing you're borrowing? Can we use it next week? We'll give it back!"


"Know that thing you're borrowing? Can we use it next week? Well give it back!"

This is why people get fired over emails.