Wednesday, December 01, 2004

If you use Yahoo's calendar, do not put quotations marks in the NOTES section of an appointment. It freaks it out, big time. Trust me. Crazy. I was bugging out people. Bugging out, I tell you.

I'm better now.

Monday, November 15, 2004

I have just discovered a nifty little Playstation 2 game:
Katamari Damacy.

sticky spinning fun
katamari damacy
replacing the stars

Katamari Damacy
Posted by Hello

In short, it is wonderful. Simply wonderful.

Let me try to break it down for you...

First impressions: When you pop in this game, you will see a minute-long theme-song animation. There are not enough drugs in the world to make this cartoon seem normal. (See for yourself.) A chorus of ducks sing from the sides of the screen, accompanied by giraffes, elephants, shamrocks, and a plethora of mushrooms. The song is super-catchy, and will certainly stir you on to playing the game.

Story: (Ready for this? It's a doozy...) You play the son of the King of All cosmos. He's a quirky giant, and apparently last night he was cruising the galaxy after partying hard. He doesn't quite remember the whole night, but it's obvious that this lumbering drunk was out of control: he managed to destroy all the stars in the sky. As the tiny prince, you must make new stars. (As an astronomer, I obviously NEEDED to have this game!) Your father provided you with something called a Katamari (the best research I could do seems to indicate that this means 'clump', which makes sense), which is a sticky ball. A super sticky ball. This thing apparently the universal adhesive -- because EVERYTHING sticks to the ball. And that's the point -- use the sticky ball to collect things and make the ball big enough to be a star.

Gameplay: Rolling, rolling, rolling. The prince must roll the ball around and stick things to it to make it bigger. Each level starts with a ball at a certain size -- you have a goal size and a time limit to make it that large. I'm fairly certain that it's the only game I've played that actually uses NO BUTTONS. It just uses the two analog joysticks. Think of it sort of like driving a tank (remember Battlezone?) -- push both joysticks forward to go forward, one forward and one back turns you... there are a variety of combinations of the joysticks to maneuver different ways. It's a little tricky to get the hang of it, but once you do, it's a lot of fun, and quite fluid. The physics are just right. It's kind of funny when you pick up an odd-shaped item like a pencil or a shovel, you ball sort of rolls with a limp.

Graphics: Simple, but clear. The graphics are almost retro-style simple. The objects that move look foolishly simple. The animals that move look like plastic toys. The cut scene graphics look like low-budget, two-frame animations. But somehow, it works. In fact, it lends a kitchiness that makes you laugh that much harder at some of the objects and events. I don't know how they it was done, but the graphics are awful and amazing at the same time.

Sound: This is the true kicker. The soundtrack is TREMENDOUS. It's almost too good. I didn't want to finish some levels because the music was so good. Perfect, catchy Tokyopop. (Here's some clips.) They have made a soundtrack, but it costs more than the game itself.

Final thoughts: The game retails brand new at $20. This will be money well-spent. The levels are huge, and VERY replayable -- the open style of zipping around and picking up things whichever way you want, is amazing. It's a simple game -- there's no shooting or flying or racing or role-playing elements -- but it's so clever, quaint and odd that you have to like it. I can't imagine ever getting rid of this game.

Buy it now. Love it forever.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

This crazy geezer was driving this car on Route 80 in New jersey! It was a chilly day, too, as likely indicated by his attire.

Posted by Hello

I just accidentally had my camera with me, and had to snap his picture.
I swear, I had a dream about this last night. I had to make it real now that I have awoken. I have embellished a couple things, but 96.2% of it appeared in my sleep! My brain is an odd place.

Welcome to the Pretentious Kids Toy Store! We've been serving the needs of the rich and spoiled since the Regean era.

We are well known for thinking out of the box to truly satisfy the spoiled rich kids of the world, and we are so excited to present our newest gift idea -- President of the United States!

We know it sounds impossible, but rest assured it is not. The Pretentious Kids Toy Store will promise you the position of President of the United States. No matter what.

  • Don't have the mental acumen to be President? No problem!
  • Have you financially destroyed four (4) oil companies which were gifts to you? What does that have to do with running a country with the highest GDP in the world?
  • Have a history of drugs and drinking? Not an issue at all!
  • You have 2 daughters who have only appeared in public sober once, and that was in court to defend an underage drinking charge? GREAT! It just increases your appeal to the younger binge drinking set!
  • You're actually a traitor to your country for signing up to serve, and instead of reporting for duty, you deciding partying is a bit more important? Don't worry! We can make that a non-issue!
  • Have financial ties to regimes that train terrosists exclusively for killing Americans? Great! It'll just confuse the ignorant!

So what do you get as President? You get to give all of your friends powerful positions. You get to instill fear in 300 million Americans, and truly terrorize billions of people world wide -- a great outlet for the bully in you. AND, you get to be on vacation FORTY PERCENT OF THE TIME!

How much would you pay to be the most powerful leader of the free world? $100 trillion? $300 trillion?

The Pretentious Kids Toy Store is offering all of this for the low, low price of $12 trillion dollars. [***] NOTE: THIS ITEM IS CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK. MORE ARE EXPECTED TO SHIP IN 2008.

It sounds like a lot, but we have a wonderful payment plan, where you can borrow money from the working people of America, and never have to pay it back.

This offer is a 4 year subscription; in order to renew the subscription for another 4 years, you may need to truly terrify the American people, and kill hundreds of thousands of foreigners of your choice.

Please note that the charge for this order will appear on your credit card statement as the following:

  • "The Saudi Royal Family, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia"
  • "Halliburton, Houston, TX, USA"
  • "Diebold Incorporated, North Canton, Ohio, USA"
  • "Election Systems & Software, Inc., Omaha, NE, USA"
  • "Karl Rove, Austin, TX, USA"

Thursday, November 04, 2004

THIS is the man we "elected". I hope everyone who voted for him is happy. He's a 7 year old moron, and he's leading the most powerful country in the world.

I'm going to go puke.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I just bought Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

I have always loved the Grand Theft Auto series of games. Even the first two editions, which were fairly simple graphically, but engaging and funny.

After an incredible amount of anticipation, finally the newest chapter has been released! Normally I wait for a new game to have been out for a while, and let the cost go down, and usually purchase it used.

But this time, I could NOT WAIT. So I bought it.

SO far -- I am NOT happy. It spends WAY too much time on teeny details -- your clothes, hair, car detail, muscle tone, hunger level, respect level -- and way too much time on the stuff that made the previous games GREAT. I should be out killing pimps, not seeing if I look better bald or with a big fro. And even some of those elements are insipid and unrealistic. Example: You can go to the barber and he can somehow GIVE YOU a beard.

I've played about 20 missions so far, and the last one that I could stand last night involved me dancing. I had to do a good dance (you have to mash buttons to the beat, Dance Dance Revolution style) to get in good with the DJ. I HAD TO DANCE!! Why?!? I had my AK -- how about just plugging the DJ in the gut, and stealing her equipment??

My right thumb is now the strongest muscle in my body after spending 25 minutes repeatedly pressing the "X" button on a treadmill in the gym. It's true, you can run a treadmill, ride a stationary bike, lift weights. Whee. What a thrill. (Sarcasm alert!)

It may get better, but so far it has removed everything I loved about the previous chapters and added in elements from rhythm games and game like The Sims to bog it down in minutia. It should be called Grand Theft Auto: Tamagatchi... your character is more of a virtual pet than a gangster. Worried about your hairdo... what were they THINKING?

By the way -- Graphics: OUTSTANDING. Environment: HUGE. Story: WENT AWAY (you supposedly came back because your mother was murdered and then you're framed for a murder... then all that goes away somehow). Dialog: My street lingo is a little out of date to understand much of what they're saying. It sounds like it's probably good - it's acted well - but I don't get a lot of it.

I'll try it for a little while more, but I am kicking myself for spending $50 on a game I assumed would be amazing. The first 20-some-odd missions sure aren't.

Posted by Hello

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

HEY! It's been weeks since I've posted anything. And the event described actually happened last week... but it's a story I've told a bunch of times, and want to remember, so I figured I'd give some folks something to read...

At about 4:15 am, I heard some pounding noises outside my bedroom window. It's kind of a scary thing to wake up to something like that. I realized what it was pretty quickly: some animal had noticed that I had thrown away half a pizza, and was trying to get to it. The thumping was pretty loud, I thought. But I KNEW I wouldn't sleep until I knew what it was. I was a little worried it was a bear, but I figured I'd just go outside, peek around the corner, shine my flashlight in the general direction of the garbage, and the animal's bearness would be swiftly apparently, and then I could just go back inside.

So I put on some pajama pants, and went out. I shined the light, and saw a little grey fur. A raccoon! Well, he'll be easy to chase away! So I walked over there, and there was actually 4 raccoons. Two were standing next to the garbage can, apparently on watch. The other Two were busy with the garbage can -- they couldn't get the lid off, but they managed to shift it off to the side a little bit. One guy had basically just his head in, but the other was in up to his hips.

The raccoons were not large -- maybe about the size of a small full-grown cat in length, with raccoon girth. They were so beautiful.

The two on watch just stared at me for a second, frozen. Then, guard number one gave up and quickly hobbled off, leaving just his buddy watching me. The other two were still busy with the pizza remnants.

Guard number 2 then ELBOWED the raccoon with just his head in the can. I swear he did. He never stopped looking at me, and he tapped his buddy in a gesture of, "Dude. Dude. There's a dude here. We gotta go."

The guy with his head in the can backed out. He looked at me, and shook his head in disgust. He and his buddy ambled off.

So NOW it's just the guy half in the can. And he's pretty involved in his meal. So I started to yell at him -- "Hey." "Hey!" "HEY!" He didn't seem to care at all. So then I poked him in the butt with my flashlight.

STILL nothing! He was just munching away.

If you've ever checked my profile, you know that one of my Interests is "trying to pet wild animals". What a perfect time to do just that. So...

I pet him. I PET HIM!

He was pretty soft.

As soon as I pet him, he totally stiffened up, but he didn't back out. I was a little worried he was stuck. So I took advantage of the situation and pet him again. I scratched him a little.
Then he backed out. And sat down and looked at me. I told him to "Get outta here, silly." but he seemed content. I thought about trying to pet him again, but now he was teeth-first, so I was a bit reluctant.

I stomped a foot right in front of him, and he wandered under my car.
I righted the garbage can, and took the pizza out of it. I was bringing it back towards the house to put it in a plastic bag. I got near the back of my car, and the raccoon was just sitting there! He was looking at me. He was so cute. He seemed pretty unafraid. I told him how cute he was, and moved on towards the house. I looked over my shoulder, and he was following me! Like he was thinking, "Where are we going to eat that pizza?"

I went inside, and he was sitting right outside the screen door. I bid him goodnight, and went to the kitchen and bagged up the pizza.

As I walked back to bed, he was still sitting outside looking in.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Freaky old dude.

Am I the only one who is COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT by the old dude in the new Six Flags commercials?!?

Posted by Hello

I always thought he was kind of freaky for some reason, but he has apparently even crept into my subconscious. I had a dream last night that a bunch of friends and I were on that Six Flags bus that he drives in the commercials. I assume we got on it in order to go to Great Adventure -- We were riding up a narrow road against the side of a cliff, and he kept looking back at us with the freaky mouth-open crazy-eyed look he has. He kept glancing off the road and speeding up -- we were all yelling at him to slow down, and he just kept shaking his head and speeding up. As we got near the top of the hill he gleefully drove right off the road.

I did wake up before we all plunged to our fiery death, but I assume that was the conclusion.

I don't think I can go to Great Adventure any time soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


Hey. I just checked my profile for some unknown reason, and I noticed: I've made exactly 300 posts.

Well, this one is actually 301. But still...
Radio is the sound salvation.


This weekend, I picked up a Sirius satellite radio system. It is the most awesome thing ever. I think it is tremendous.

Posted by Hello

New Jersey, at least where I am, has a dearth of radio stations. It's either pop or classic rock, and it just gets tired after a while. And there's not even any good talk radio (Air America on 1190 AM comes in sporadically).

NOW, I have more music than I can ever stand. It is amazing.

My favorite channels:
10: the bridge
18: the spectrum
21: alt nation
22: 1st wave
24: sirius disorder (this is probably my ABSOLUTE fave)
26: left of center
64: chill
146: cracked up comedy
147: raw dog

But I listen to lots of others, as well.

I haven't spent much time on the Classic Radio Show channel or the Discovery Channel but I'm sure I will.

They have 120 channels. If you like to listen, this thing is for you. I don't care what you like the listen to... it's here. I'm really blown away.

I got the car AND home kits, and I couldn't be happier.

The only negative: The other night, there was basically a monsoon going on around my house, and the signal got interrupted quite a bit. I went out and did some antenna adjusting, and it seemed to help, but during the worst of the rain, it was kind of choppy.

Go buy this thing. It rocks.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


The picture below shows exactly what you don't want to see in the wine glass as you finish the wine.

I was enjoying a nice glass of Merlot, and tossing back the last swig, and as I was tipping the empty glass back down, I saw, curled up against the side, a BIG HAIRY SPIDER.

He was HAIRY.

I still have the shivers. Yeeps.

 Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I made that.

I have needed an entertainment center, of sorts, for a while. My DVDs were just sitting in a line across the ground in front of the TV. My video and stereo components were just stacked on each other. I looked for a pre-made one, but couldn't find one that matched my needs.

SO, I did some planning, and went to Home Depot (which I HATE), and bought seven 1"x4"s. And about an hour later I had this:

 Posted by Hello

Holey moley, I'm a carpenter! Who knew?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Flutter by.

Also at the Bronx Zoo, I visited the Butterfly House. They were cool. Here's some pics from there that I like a lot!





 Posted by Hello
The monkeys' pose.

The college sponsored a trip to the Bronx Zoo while I was on vacation last week. $10!! That included the bus and admission as well as some of the premium areas. One of the areas we got to go to was the Gorilla Congo area. While I was there, two of them posed liked this:

 Posted by Hello

AMAZING! If there was a third with his hands over his eyes, people would think I altered it.

Although the "Speak No Evil" gorilla looks almost like he's doing "Smell No Evil". But that's OK, too.

I love the zoo.
Crazy Cricket

I had a huge cricket in my house while I was on vacation. HUGE. This thing was a monster. An insectiod beast.

 Posted by Hello

I scooped him up in a tissue and brought him outside to take pictures. I was feeling crawly and oogy the whole time. Look at those spiky things coming out of his butt! Yeeps.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Two more weeks off.

There has been a dearth of Blog entries recently. I apologize. AND....

....I'm taking the rest of this week and all of next week off.

Official Blogging Vacation begins....


Friday, June 11, 2004

I thought I had seen every episode of The Simpsons, at LEAST once. Last night, there was an episode with David Byrne! It was wonderful. David Byrne is pretty nifty.

But! The real point of this is I heard one of my favorite quotes on the show EVER.

Homer had written a song about hating Ned Flanders. It was overly catchy, and got played and replayed and overplayed so many times that it completely drove him nuts.

At one point Homer says, "I've come to hate my own creation! Now I know how God feels."

The Simpsons is the best.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Cranium folks have a new game!


It's a card game. It's way fun. Super fun. The cards are clear plastic, which is pretty crazy.

Unlike other Cranium games, you don't have to do stuff. No drawing, sculpting, singing, acting, or anything of the sort. It's just a card game. The top card of the discard pile tells what you are trying to accomplish. Each card has 4 icons-of-sorts in the corners. One corner has a letter, one a number, one an instrument, and one a PIECE of an icon.

You may be trying to spell a word with the cards in your hand, or have cards that add to 11, or you may need to match the instrument, or you may need to complete all the pieces of the icon. The top card of the discard pile must be included in whatever you are doing.

So, if the top card of the discard pile is a "Spelling" card, and it has the letter W on it, you must spell a word that has a W in it. If you have an S, O, R, and D, you can play "SWORD", and put all 4 of your cards down at once. Now, whatever top card you just played determines the next person's action.

It's really dynamic and quick and a blast to play. I think you can only buy it online or at a Starbucks. I've had it for about 3 days, and I've already got my money's worth.
I was trying to go to bed at a reasonable hour last night, but it was pushing 11:00 pm so I HAD to watch the Daily Show. I had convinced myself that I would NOT STAY UP for Tough Crowd. I wouldn't. It was TOO LATE and I was TOO TIRED.

Right before the Daily Show ended, during their last commercial break, there was a spot for Tough Crowd. It was just a little kid talking about who was going to be on the show. It was actually a little freaky. I was a bit confused.

But he said, as if he was talking right to me, "C'mon, stay up a little later for Tough Crowd. You'll sleep when you're dead."

Good point! I was convinced.

Today, I'm tired.
Last night in the kitchen, there was this groovy looking moth buzzing around my kitchen. He sat still and let me get a bunch of good pictures of him.

Posted by Hello

Moths are cool.

Monday, June 07, 2004

A fun little online game.

It's called Constellations.

Posted by Hello

It's basically a free-form 'connect the dots'. Obviously (if you know me) I have an astronomy connection to a game called constellations. But there is a geometry element, as well (I'm an astronomy geek AND a math geek).

You see, there are some dots scattered around the board, and you have to connect them together with lines exceeding a certain length. The length increases at each level. You cannot cross a line you have already drawn, and you can only use a dot once, so you have to plan ahead. Sometimes you are provided with brighter dots which can be used twice... these often are the key to finishing.

The boards are random, so it's very replayable.

So far, my highest score has been: 134699.

This site has another game called "Gravity", which I enjoy, too, but not nearly as much.

They have a bunch of games, but these are the only two I really ever play.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I got a new toy!

Posted by Hello
I had a dinky little Dean Markley jamming amp since college. It made all sorts of horrible noises that were not related to the guitar at all. It buzzed and hummed and groaned and popped and sputtered.

But all that's changed. This little dude is the best thing ever. It's a Fender Frontman. It's bigger than my old one, but still pretty small. The clear tone is awesome, the reverb is awesome, the buzzy gain is awesome.

I am a rock and roll star. At least in my own apartment in my own brain in my own little world.
As a person who speaks loudly for a living, having a sore throat just stinks.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Last night, I went outside to find a pair of geese with two babies. The goslings were terribly, terribly cute. I had to get some pictures. I actually took about a dozen.

Posted by Hello

This morning, they were back by the docks! I went down to get a couple more pictures, when I heard a rustle in the trees at the edge of the property. A big adult goose came out, followed by what appeared to be a clown-car full of babies. I count SEVENTEEN.

Too cute. Although, there is goose crap EVERYWHERE.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Not that I update this much, but I should mention that I will be away from technology for at least 10 days.

See you in June!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

There's a game called Pig Pile.

I've played it a bunch of times now. I attend a regular game night, and it seemed to pass the harsh game night crowd standards! I've also played it with family and friends, and we all seem to find it fun. I know I do.

It basically a card game that looks an AWFUL LOT like a standard card game called Palace. You can play a card on top of another if it has a value equal to, or greater than the card that is there. If you don't have a card to play, you must pick up the ENTIRE discard pile and add it to your hand. There are some cards face down in front of you that you have to work towards. First one to ditch all cards wins, and gets 3 pig points. Next one out gets 2 pig points. Everyone else gets 1 pig point, except for the person who has the most cards.

You actually keep track of the score with little pigs. And that's the best part -- collecting the little pigs. And setting them up in odd formations.

And, for some of us, sticking them in our ears. This is someone who will only be referred to as "The Colonel" (his actually identity will remain hidden for his own protection!!) enjoying those pigs.

It's a good game. Not too expensive. Quite easy to learn. Looks like a keeper.
Posted by Hello

Ok, I am so happy now.

First -- I'm getting used to the new Blogger interface. I knew I would. There are still some issues I have, but I'm sure I'll get over.

Second -- and, oh so much more importantly, I can use the "Hello" program to post pictures! And host pictures!! This is awesome and amazing and free and makes me SO MUCH happier. There are many times that I've wanted to put pictures, but couldn't. I use Yahoo, but they scramble their web addresses, so you can't put a permanent link to them.

Hello lets me include the picture!

I needed this. My day has been sucking so far, and there is a decent amount of suck left to go. I am a smidge happier now.

This is a test to see if I can use "Hello" to post pictures to my Blog. This would be good. I could take the pictures of the Planetarium web site -- I'm sure I'm breaking a rule or 2. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

SO FAR I do not like the new Blogger interface. It takes more clicks to do the simplest things, and makes it harder for me to see the things I am used to seeing (like recently updated Blogs).

It won't stop me from Blogging, but if it looked like this when I started, I probably wouldn't have stayed with it long.

Sorry, Blogger folks. If you could change some stuff BACK I would be thrilled. The old panel of posting and publishing was nice. I did a LOT of test posts before I published before. Doesn't look like that's even an option anymore. Oh, wait. Maybe it is "Save as Draft".

Urf. I am not in the mood for change.

I'm sure I'll come around.

I was in a restaurant this weekend, and I overheard part of a conversation. It went like this...

"...because you see, fish don't have legs. Chickens have legs."

I have been haunted by this since. I really, really want to know how that could possibly fit into a conversation.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

It's been a couple weeks since I've been over here. Sorry about that. Not much time to write, really.

But I needed to take time out of my busy schedule because I stumbled over the craziest thing. This is for dog owners everywhere: The Pet A Potty.

Check it out -- you don't have to take your dog out anymore. It's a patch of grass you keep in the house. Seriously. You have to mow it. You still have to scoop, but the pee dribbles through to a pan you have to clean regularly.

Don't have enough crap in the house?? Get a Pet A Potty. Their website has a video/slideshow preview that actually shows dogs 'in the act'. I thought it was fake at first, since the pictures showed some dogs with a turd half out. Crazy.

With the wheels and sod and everything, it can be yours for the low, low price of $270.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


I was just walking down the hall and there was a student out there on her cell phone, talking in a regular-volumed voice.

Here's what a heard:

"Yeah, he likes to talk when were doing it.... I know!.... yeah, drives me nuts.... he's hot, though, so it doesn't matter."

That is certainly not some conversation I thought I'd ever hear.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I just finished Nymphomation, by Jeff Noon.

Easy to read

A literary workout
Read it before

A novel with novelty
Lost my interest

Kept me riveted

Jeff Noon is just a wickedly nifty author. Vurt was the first novel of his that I 'read'. I actually purchased the audiobook on a whim. I burned through the cassettes tons of times, and then Rob ripped them to CDs for me. I've actually listened to the CDs so much that they are all beat up, too. It really doesn't matter much since I can basically recite the whole thing, and I've since purchesed the paper form, and read it a couple of times.

Nymphomation is based around a TV show which is a sort of lottery. People buy electronic dominoes, and if their domino ends up matching the domino that is shown on the program, you min big money. It's a huge fad around Manchester. But when a couple of the winners turn up dead, it seems there is more to the game than is easily seen.

The book flashes back 30 years or so to a class of failing students who learn about math and life from a new, innovative teacher, who bases all of her lessons on the game of dominoes... there is an obvious connection!

The book explores this connection, and goes on to play around in chaos, game theory and other mathematics invented just for the tale. It takes place in a near-future filled with fast-food and curry shops, where mechanical insects - blurbflies - buzz around with advertising slogans, and an entire culture is addicted to a lottery game show.

It's a cyberpunk novel, of sorts... it's impossible to describe. Jeff Noon writes science fiction in a style which is somewhere between fantasy and beatnik. He opens the chapters with crazy rants that set the frenzied mood, and grab hold of you once you grow accostomed to the flavor.

Page 27: "Native gamblers, stuck superlove crazy to the televiz, goggle-eyed and numberholic as the credits came in colours. Tango the dominoes, forever changing. Pipsville, dig those chances! Bulging air, message-heavy. Blurbflies in a swarm, singing streets alive. Madverts. Dream to play! Play to win! Win to dream! All over the city, that wet and slippy evening, surrounded by biscuits and crumble, herds of punters were banging their bones on cofe tables and dashboards, mouse pads and park benches, watching tiny dots pulsate in crooked rhythm."

The wonderland feel is further enhanced by things like Page 319: "'Twas nine-ish, and the slimy hordes did clack and gamble in the wave. All dotty were the game-parades, and the telebox did crave. 'Beware the Dominock, my daught, the pips that on young chances feed! Beware the House of Bone and shun the Mr. Millipede!' ...
'Twas nine-ish, and the spotty numbs did gamb and dumble in the games. All pippy were the domisums, and the telebox in flames."

Crazy and cool. Lyrical and fanciful.

Last Thursday, I went to see Hellboy.

A simple story

A complicated tale
Seen it before

A fresh perspective
Visually ordinary

Special effects-y

It was a nifty film. The characters had a bunch of depth. The scenery was dark, but not overly so.

And there is a lot of fighting. A LOT of fighting -- guns, knives, swords, fists, explosions -- it's all there. There are some awfully nasty-looking demons.

It's certainly not for everyone, but if you like intense action wrapped around an epic storyline spanning 60 years, involving Nazis, demons, gods of chaos frozen at the edge of the solar system, and the end of the world - apocalypse-style, go check it out.

Breathless fun! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 08, 2004

This is something that has been in my brain for a VERY long time....

I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a car which said:

"Keep the Earth clean. It's not Uranus."

As an Astronomer, and a person who keeps his butt tidy, I am personally offended by this bumper sticker on many levels.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Question of the Day site is one I frequent. I actually send the QOD out to a bunch of people, and we all try to get the right answer. It's a silly way to start and finish the day. Much of the time, the questions are worded poorly. Much of the time the correct answer isn't even given as a choice. It reminds me a little of part of the disclaimer at the beginning of What Do You Know with Michael Feldman -- "The questions have been researched, but the answers have not."

Today's question just got my brain all juiced up. It looks like this:

Q: Approximately how many different ways can you order
coffee from Starbucks?


I thought the vague language just itched for me to go off on the concept.

You can order coffee...

  • ...the regular way
  • ...standing on one foot
  • ...while itching your head
  • ...while rubbing your belly
  • ...while itching you head and rubbing your belly
  • ...while itching your head, rubbing your belly, and standing on one foot
  • ...jumping up and down
  • ...lying on the floor
  • ...with your head tilted to one side like a curious puppy
  • ...with a bad fake cockney accent. "'ey! Oi'd loike an 'alf-caffeinated 'azelnut latte!"
  • ...while doing a late 1980's Michael Jackson style 'moonwalk'
  • ...naked
  • using charades
  • pig latin. "es-yay. I ould-way ike-lay an appaccino-kay."
  • ...very loudly
  • a way that will bother them. It's simple. Just ask for a 'large'. Or something smaller than 'tall'.
    "Is tall the smallest? Cuz it sounds too much for me. What's smaller than tall? Can I have a 'short'? 'Petite', perhaps? Yeah, never mind, I don't want anything -- 'tall' is too big."
  • asking for an iced coffee, but ask for it 'as hot as you can make it.'
  • gibberish. "I'd like a melon-hot sweet-tart plunger monkey frappachino."
  • using a big voice and fake echo, as if you were an announcer at a ballpark. "YES-ES-es.... I-I-i... WOULD-OULD-ould... LIKE-like-ike... COFFEE-OFFEE-offee."
  • mispronouncing things on the menu, and INSISTING you are correct.
    "Hi. I'd like a 'late'."
    "Sir, it's pronounced 'lah-tay'. It's a latte."
    "OH, NO, I'm pretty sure it's 'late'."
  • asking for a flavored latte, and when they ask what flavor shot you want, ask for a bunch of ones you're pretty sure they don't have, and then be flabbergasted by the fact that they don't have them.
    "What flavor?"
    "I'll have salmon. No salmon? Oh, OK... hmmm... broccoli, then. NO BROCCOLI?? It's a pretty common flavor. What about nacho or ranch flavoring? NO??! *--sigh--* All right, I'll just take barbecue. No barbecue flavor? You can get anything barbecue flavored!!"
  • leaning forward very close to the person and whispering. Let your eyes dart around as you order as if you are doing something illegal.

Feel free to make up your own.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

My new obsession: Worms 3-D!!

You really need to be a Worms fan to get this.

The original Worms was released in 1994, but the phenomenon started way before that.

One of the first games I ever played on any computer was one called something like Artillery Duel. There were 2 stationary tanks on a hilly landscape. Each player, one at a time, chose the angle, and the power that your missile will take. You watched the path your missile took, and adjusted your shot on your next turn accordingly. It was amazingly simple, and very addicting, especially for the math/computer geek crowd, of which I was among.

Sometime in the 80's, someone made another version of this, but it was gorillas chucking bananas at each other -- but it was the same concept.

The game was released in Basic for PC's. There were versions for Mac. There were Atari/Colecovision/Intellivision versions. But it was always basically the same -- take turns shooting little rockets at each other.

Then, the fellas at Team 17 took it to the next step. And it was Worms. All of the computer geeks were waiting for this game, we just didn't know it until we saw it. It was beautiful -- all the simplicity of artillery duel, but this time you were controlling worms toting a powerful and hilarious assortment of weapons. Bazookas, bananas, and exploding sheep... it was amazing.

The series continued with Worms 2, Worms Armageddon and Worms World Party. There were a couple others in the series, and a few spin-offs as well (like Worms Blast). Each added new ways to play, new weapons, and new graphics, but it was still the 2 dimensional, simple-graphic blastfest.

The next generation of turn-based explosion fun has arrived.

Say hello to Worms 3-D.

The GOOD: Gameplay, menus and price. The game is just a jump in and shoot stuff party in a box. It is so easy to navigate the menus. In fact, if you are just interested in a little bit of fun, one click on the main menu gets you there. You can hop in and play for a few minutes. You'll most likely play for a few hours. I was actually in bed the other night, having a little trouble sleeping, while visions of bouncing worms danced in my head. I got up and played for an hour when I should have been sleeping. The insane amount of weapons and play modes are wonderful, and the "Wormpot" allows you to pick random modes -- there's well over 10,000 ways to bend the rules of physics and gameplay. I have the game on my Playstation 2, and at $30 brand new, I've already gotten my money's worth.

The BAD: Doesn't keep track of your stats, and the awards system has bugs. The only complaint I have so far: In Worms World Party for Playstation, it kept track of your team's wins and losses... this one doesn't bother to do that. It was kind of fun to keep track of... how many worms killed, how many of your worms were lost, etc. Also, one of the greatest things about the Worms game is the fact that they distribute awards at the end of the match -- most deadly worm, most useless worm, etc. The awards come up at the end, and don't seem very imaginative, and it seems like they show awards even when no one gets it. Just about every game I've played ends with the message: Most Accurate Team: . It seems like a simple thing that should have been picked up in QA.

The UGLY: The camera gets in its own way on occasion. The problem with the 3D camera is that it tries to follow the worm, but sometimes walls and landscape make it hard to see your worm and where he might be heading. I have fallen into the water and stepped on land mines, and had it be a COMPLETE surprise. There is a first-person view, as well as a "blimp view" from over head that helps a little, but it still seems that there are places you can't see as you move around.

Any flaws are excusable so far, and I can't recommend this enough.


Monday, March 01, 2004

This weekend I watched Equilibrium.

A simple story

A complicated tale
Seen it before

A fresh perspective
Visually ordinary

Special effects-y

Why had I never heard of this film?? It was a good one for me. It had elements of many sci-fi movies I like... Matrix, Dark City, stuff like that. I liked it a bunch.

The point of the film: The people in charge decide that the only way to prevent warfare is to prevent people from getting all emotional about things. They make a drug that removes the furor and excitement that leads to war. It actually deadens all emotions. Having any emotions at all is a Sense Offense. There is, of course, and underground which deals in feelings....

But how do you enforce such a thing? Well, there are these Clerics who are sort of empathic -- they feel when others feel. They find the Sense Offenders, and, generally, shoot them.

If you like action/adventure and science fiction with a little dash of something-to-think-about, this is a good pick. If you don't like people taking a bullet, I would steer clear of the film -- many folks get taken down. And the bloodletting gets more real and bloody as the film progresses.

There are some problems with the concept -- everyone is supposed to be completely unfeeling, but even the Clerics, the most unfeeling off all, have pride and loyalty. One Cleric even tells another how happy he was that they were working together. You might want to leave words like "happy" out of the language of someone who has no feeling. They sort of explain it away a little as being words that we have used forever, and we still use them in the same context, even if they have no meaning. It's brought up a couple times in the film, in terms of using phrases like "I'm sorry," as being just a rejoinder to some event, rather than something that has actual meaning. And we all do stuff like that all the time -- next time someone asks, "How ya doin?" answer truthfully, don't just say, "Fine."

Overall, the movie succeeded on most levels, so I recommend it! Good for watching, and for talking about afterward.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Last weekend I watched Underworld.

A simple story

A complicated tale
Seen it before

A fresh perspective
Visually ordinary

Special effects-y

It was way poorer than I expected. They effectively used slow-motion, camera angles, editing, bland color palettes, sound effects, and actors that all look exactly alike to completely obfuscate what could have been a pleasant, exciting story.

The opening scene which takes place in a subway and involves a lot of shooting really set the tone. I had no idea who was shooting at whom. The whole time I was thinking, "Didn't they just show that guy in a different place?" I'm not sure if one guy was moving around, or the actors just looked so much alike that I was unknowingly thinking of two different people singly.

I guess there is kind of big twist towards the end, but by that time you probably don't care -- you just want all of them, Vampires, Werewolves, whatever, to just kind of kill each other off.

If there is ever a Mystery Science Theater 4000, I would recommend this as the first installment. I was cracking jokes at the screen the whole time.

There is some shooting, there is some action, there are some semi-decent special effects when the werewolves are far away (when they are close they just look like rubber masks), but it is WAY too long. And the soundtrack is horrible. The music has lots of industrial thumps and slams at ridiculous places, making you think that door are being slammed and people are jumping around when none of that is happening. The sound is possibly the most distracting of all.