Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

One of these actually is the reason for the zombie infestation in my Hunter game

From The 5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen. Awesome stuff.

Now playing: Chrono Trigger - Frog's Theme
via FoxyTunes

Come align for the big fight to rock for you

Important things you should know about Guitar Hero III:
  1. They improved the graphics of the arenas. This means dick while you're trying to play a blistering solo, but it's nice to see they tried.
  2. They added a two-player cooperative career mode, which is cool; it has a completely different setlist setup and different songs, which is cooler.
  3. The boss fights are awesome, even if Tom Morello is a pushover.
  4. No matter which guitarist you pick, he/she won't show up in the cut scenes.
  5. Yes, there are cut scenes.
  6. Just because a song sucks, that doesn't mean it isn't fun to play. Case in point: "Same Old Song and Dance" by Aerosmith.
  7. To be honest...Guitar Hero II was better. At least, so far. I haven't been all the way through the list. I started a career on Hard and told myself I'd stop and go to bed once I failed a song -- I got as far as "The Metal" before dying. Oh well. There's always tomorrow.
  8. "Cherub Rock" is much, much harder than it sounds. Damn you, three-note chords!
That is all.

Oh, wait: have you watched Heroes yet? Let's just say that what Peter found in the apartment in Montreal was the very last thing I wanted him to find. "Hey, an impending catastrophe that threatens New York City, and only I can stop it! Boy, I'm glad this has never happened to me before!"

Hey, if you can't remember it, it's new to you!

Now playing: Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I heard Game 6 was awesome, too

So Major League Baseball has the most awesome thing I've ever seen on their website: for two bucks, you can buy complete videos of old baseball games. World Series games, playoff games, important milestones -- two bucks gets you the whole thing. Cool, huh?

But here's an interesting one:

Yes -- that's Game 5. Of the 2005 World Series. Which only lasted four games. No, really it did. Trust me, I remember this one vividly.

I'm downloading Game 1 of the 1988 Series as we speak. Not much of a surprise, huh?

Now playing: The Beatles - I'll Be Back
via FoxyTunes

Yeah, pretty much

Your Score: Haughty Intellectual

You are 85% Rational, 0% Extroverted, 42% Brutal, and 85% Arrogant.

You are the Haughty Intellectual. You are a very rational person, emphasizing logic over emotion, and you are also rather arrogant and self-aggrandizing. You probably think of yourself as an intellectual, and you would like everyone to know it. Not only that, but you also tend to look down on others, thinking yourself better than them. You could possibly have an unhealthy obsession with yourself as well, thus causing everyone to hate you for being such an elitist twat. On top of all that, you are also introverted and gentle. This means that you are just a quiet thinker who wants fame and recognition, in all likelihood. Like so many countless pseudo-intellectuals swarming around vacuous internet forums to discuss worthless political issues, your kind is a scourge upon humanity, blathering and blathering on and on about all kinds of boring crap. If your personality could be sculpted, the resulting piece would be Rodin's "The Thinker"--although I am absolutely positive that you are not nearly as muscular or naked as that statue. Rather lacking in emotion, introspective, gentle, and arrogant, you are most certainly a Haughty Intellectual! And, most likely, you will never achieve the recognition or fame you so desire! But no worries!

Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Now playing: T.V. Carpio - I Want To Hold Your Hand
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, October 27, 2007

If you don't understand why it's funny that Prudence comes in through the bathroom window, this movie is a gigantic waste of your time

My sister and I saw Across the Universe last night. It was...uh...interesting. To say the least.

Of course, it's the musical that uses the Beatles catalog as its songbook. The plot itself is pretty throwaway, so the film has to sell you on its musical sequences. The ones that work are spectacular: "Revolution" becomes a snarled missive to self-righteous war protesters, and "With a Little Help From My Friends" is the perfect soundtrack for a montage of drunken college debauchery. The best, though, is a moment near the beginning of the film, when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is turned into an unbearably sad and poignant expression of longing. Several of the other tunes are used to good effect, as well.

But when they don't work, it just gets silly. Bono and Eddie Izzard join the film about halfway through to pad the running time with utterly pointless (and boring) renditions of "I Am the Walrus" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!", and a draft sequence set to "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" was working just fine without the absurdly heavy-handed symbolism grafted to the end. (Seriously: the draftees, still in their underwear, carrying the Statue of Liberty and moaning, "She's so heavy!")

I highly recommend the movie if you're a big Beatles fan, because it might help you through the movie's slower sections. Dr. Robert's psychedelic bus ride won't be any less childish and boring, but die-hards will at least understand why it's there. If you don't like the Beatles, I'd stay far away.

Call it ***.

Now playing: The Beatles - Tomorrow Never Knows
via FoxyTunes

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's subtle, but it's there

Winter is on its way. I can tell, because my door is suddenly difficult to lock. When it gets colder, the door frame shrinks, and the lock no longer aligns perfectly. So now it takes a little effort to get the thing fastened properly.

In other parts of the country, leaves change color and one has to put on jackets and hats. In Texas, you take what you can get.

Now playing: Pete Townshend - Let My Love Open The Door
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Did anyone get the number of that truck?

So, the World Series started exactly the way I was afraid it would: with the Red Sox dropping a massive beatdown on the poor Rockies, 13-1. Hell, Dustin Pedroia hit a leadoff homer, and the first four Rockies up struck out. That's not good.

And is there any hope at all for the Rockies? No. Nope. None at all. It's over.

No, I'm serious. Forget it.

And by the way, is anyone else watching this "Imaginationland" trilogy going on on South Park right now? FRINAN and I agree -- it's a fascinating and compelling story, and a wonderful idea that Matt and Trey are clearly having a blast's just not very funny. The numerous pop culture references are generally good for a chuckle, and the return of the Woodland Critters -- from my favorite episode -- was downright genius. But, again: while it's brilliant, and maybe even a landmark for the's not funny. It's like those Weird Al songs I like just for the music.

Now playing: Aimee Mann - The Fall of the World's Own Optimist
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Found it

I was talking to FRINAN the other day about Jon Stewart's legendary appearance on CNN's Crossfire a few years ago, and I just happened across the video:

The show, of course, was canceled shortly thereafter. Jon Stewart 1, Bowtie Brigade 0.

Now playing: Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
via FoxyTunes

Incremental uptick

Heroes once again improved ever-so-slightly this week, by following a strategy that served them well: ignore one of the two catastrophically dull storylines. Last week, they sliced Peter out, and this week, we avoided any and all contact with Clare Bear and the Boy Who Could Fly. And an escape from Ireland means an escape from bad Irish accents. Of course, they brought in a ringer -- Kristen Bell can stay on this show as long as she wants, I don't care what her power is or who she's working for. (I love the Heroes casting department, by the way. They've brought in Stan Lee, Sulu, Uhura, and now Veronica Mars. They sure know where their fanbase lives, don't they?)

But bad, bad news is potentially on the horizon, and not just for Heroes. The members of the Writer's Guild have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, which could happen after their current deal expires on Halloween. If they strike, television production grinds to a standstill, since any WGA member (which would be pretty much every writer in Hollywood) wouldn't be writing anymore. Of course, the writers for "reality" shows and stuff like American Idol and game shows aren't members of the union, so the number of those programs would increase exponentially. (If you were wondering why there are so many shows like that in the new fall season, it's because TV producers saw this coming and covered their bases.) Some shows might try to continue with scabs and non-writers putting scripts together, but the results wouldn't be pretty. At all. In fact, they'd be downright ugly.

How ugly? Remember the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation? That abysmal, soul-sucking wasteland we wished we could all forget about? The season so fucking bad that most networks just skip over them in syndication? The same networks that gleefully air all of Enterprise and Voyager? Most of that season was made during the last WGA strike, in the late '80s. Now, imagine every single show on television being that bad.

That's how ugly.

But I don't blame the writers for being angry -- they're getting hosed on residuals, thanks to a deal they made back in 1989. That contract made those residuals microscopic for home video releases, which didn't seem that big a deal -- who was buying television shows on home video in 1989 (other than cartoons, maybe, and animated shows generally aren't covered by the Guild, either)? But now -- DVD releases are enormously popular, and the writers think the percentage should be just adjusted to fit the current state of the medium. They also want more for television that's distributed through "new media," which would be internet distribution, cell phone videos, and the like. All in all, good points. The people they're negotiating with, the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, made a counter-offer that the WGA found an insult (it would have tied the residuals to the producers' eventual profits, which is unfair to the writers in a few different ways), and a strike was threatened, bringing us to this perilous state.

Of course, the authorization vote doesn't mean they will strike, just that they now can, which is a pretty powerful bargaining chip. And even if they do, nothing says they'll do it the very second the deal expires -- the could wait until June, when both the Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild's deals run out, and threaten a three-way strike that really would bring Hollywood to its knees.

Here's hoping for the best, huh?

Now playing: Elliott Smith - Between The Bars
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two teams enter, only one will leave

Just glancing at the final score -- Boston 11, Cleveland 2 -- makes Game 7 of the ALCS look like a blowout, but it wasn't. The game remained tense throughout, with the Red Sox clinging to a one-run lead for several innings. A baserunning mistake here, a fielding error over there, but the game stayed close. And then the Indians' bullpen imploded in glorious fashion, giving up eight runs in two innings (allowing five of them to be driven in by pint-sized leadoff man Dustin Predroia), and that's all she wrote. Hey, Cleveland, remember what Manny Ramirez said about losing the LCS -- there's always next year. It's not the end of the world. Who cares? (Oh, right: Indians fans.)

But now we have our Thunderdome match -- the experienced, fully-loaded Boston Red Sox against the youthful children of destiny, the Colorado Rockies, who haven't lost a game in a month. I have to give the edge to the Sox -- they've got home field advantage, they've got bigger firepower, they've got Josh Beckett, and the Rockies have been sitting at home playing Halo 3 for a week waiting for them to finish with the Indians. But who wouldn't love to see the Rockies complete this streak? (Oh, right: Red Sox fans. Honestly, I'm happy either way. I like both teams.)

This could a series for the ages, folks. Or it could be an embarrassing clusterfuck, like last year. Makes no difference to me -- I'm pumped.

Now playing: Elliott Smith - Waltz #2 (Xo)
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, October 20, 2007

First person to make an off-color joke about his relationship with Harry gets the Avada Kedavra

J.K. Rowling announced during a recent book signing that Dumbledore is gay. Fans have long "speculated on [his] sexuality," which is news to me, but whatever. I don't swing with the fan fiction crowd, and I'm starting to be very, very glad.

I have nothing to add to this that would be considered constructive.

Now playing: Jay-Z - Heart of the City (Ain't No Love)
via FoxyTunes

Friday, October 19, 2007

A brief and tasteless social commentary, from the cast of Revolver

A new episode is coming soon. In the meantime...

The house, day

Patrick and Jason are sitting on the couch. Jason's focused on his laptop; Patrick is frantically playing a video game. From the looks of things, it's not going well.

PATRICK: Dammit!

JASON [without looking up]: Die again?

PATRICK: This is unfair. You have to be some kind of Halo god to beat this.

JASON: What difficulty are you on?

PATRICK: Legendary.

JASON: Uh, well...

PATRICK: Yes. Shut up.

JASON: Why don't you go back to Guitar Hero? Michael's better than you at that one, too, but at least you don't embarrass yourself.

PATRICK: Shut. Up. I can do this.

JASON: Sure. Hell, maybe this time the Covenant will start fragging themselves out of pity. A pity frag.

PATRICK: Fuck. You. I can do this.

JASON: Right. [reads something interesting on computer] Oh, no way...

PATRICK: What's up?

JASON: Hey, you guys!

Rebecca and Angela come out of the kitchen.


JASON: David Copperfield is being accused of sexual assault.


REBECCA: The magician?

PATRICK: I think they prefer "illusionist."

JASON: Whatever he calls himself, the FBI's investigating. Raided a warehouse he owns, or something.

REBECCA: That's unbelievable.

ANGELA: My mom used to have the biggest crush on him. That hair, all the wind machines and stuff. She still has all his specials on tape.

REBECCA: My mom loved him, too. He seemed like such a cool guy.

PATRICK: Oh, I don't know.

REBECCA: Meaning what?

PATRICK: Oh, you know. All that fire. Constantly putting himself on the verge of death. Something's not right beneath all that Aqua Net.

JASON: He's got some weird kinks, too. Always tying women up, chaining them down, blindfolding 'em, putting them boxes and safes. And he's got a real blade fetish, too -- all those swords and saws and knives. I saw him cut a woman into five pieces once. I mean, he put her back together, but still.

REBECCA: That's not funny.

PATRICK: And hey, what are they gonna do if he's convicted? He escaped from Alcatraz, didn't he?

JASON: Fuck that, he walked through the Great Wall of China. Prison's a joke.

ANGELA: And if they set up roadblocks to trap him, so what? He can fly!

JASON: Exactly. He'll just fly up to the Statue of Liberty and make it disappear again.

PATRICK: He'll hold it for ransom, in exchange for a pardon.

ANGELA: He survived in the Bermuda Triangle, he could go back there. "Find me now, bastards!"

JASON: You know, I never realized it, but he's starting to sound an awful lot like a Batman villain.

ANGELA: What would his name be?

PATRICK: Abracadabra?

JASON: Jack of Spades. "Is this your card? How about this one, bitch?" BIFF! POW!

PATRICK: There you go. He'd wear a top hat, but instead of rabbits, he'd pull out bombs.

JASON: Rabbit bombs!

The three of them howl with laughter.

REBECCA: This isn't funny. Rape is not funny.

PATRICK: Oh, who's joking about rape? We're joking an alleged rapist. Rapists can be funny.

JASON: Mike Tyson springs to mind.

Rebecca shakes her head and returns to the kitchen.

JASON: Tsk, tsk. No sense of humor.

PATRICK: That's why we broke up.

ANGELA: Really?


ANGELA: Damn you.

The front door opens. Michael enters.

JASON: Hey, Michael, do you know about David Copperfield?

MICHAEL: I never read it.

JASON: No, the illusionist.

MICHAEL: Never saw that, either.

PATRICK: Har har ha -- oh, fuck!

MICHAEL: Yeah, you're gonna wanna watch out for bullets, there. Believe it or not, they can be dangerous.

PATRICK: Fuck. You.

Lights out.

If you're wondering why I didn't save this for an actual episode, it's because of chronology -- in the Revolver universe, it's still November 2006. By the time I get around to an episode that takes place in October 2007, it'll be 2023 and no one will remember this story at all. Unless he's arrested and convicted, of course. Then we'll all remember, every time we look at the space where the Statue of Liberty used to be.

I sure hope he's innocent.

Now playing: Harvey Danger - You Miss the Point Completely I Get the Point Exactly
via FoxyTunes

Nice try

You have to be a pretty good pitcher to make the other team fear you when they've won three in a row and just need one more to win the series altogether.

Josh Beckett is that good.

The guy is just insanely good in the postseason -- he's thrown something like three shutouts in the playoffs in his career, and he shut the Indians down completely in Game 1. So for last night's game, the Indians needed some way -- any way -- to get in his head, even though they were up 3-1. So what did they do? Alter their approach at the plate? Switch around their starting lineup? Change uniforms?

No. They got his ex-girlfriend to sing the National Anthem. I swear to you, this actually happened. The Indians claim it was "unintentional." Riiiiight.

I'm not sure what's funnier: that the Indians actually brought Josh Beckett's ex to sing the anthem before he pitched perhaps the most crucial game of his career, or that it didn't work: Beckett was brilliant again and the Sox escaped to fight another day.

Next time, get Carl Lewis to sing the National Anthem. That will be a distraction.

Now playing: Beth Kinderman - Distraction
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hey, look, it's a retraction

A few months ago, I wrote a big thing about Beth Kinderman, and how her songs are good and you should listen to them and stuff. Remember, I did a whole bit where I practically begged you to hear it, and you probably ignored me? Well, in the course of things, I ascribed an origin to the song "Fuse" which, it turns out, is wrong. I don't where I got the idea in the first place, but it was not even close to being right.

I know this, 'cause she told me so. I humbly apologize for the error.

Seriously, at least listen to "Valley." For me.

Now playing: Beth Kinderman - No Dividing Line
via FoxyTunes

The movie looks great, but if you look very closely at the credits, you'll see the real reason I want to see it

Yes, even though Studio 60 sucked.

Now playing: The Decemberists - The Chimbley Sweep
via FoxyTunes

The greatest PC game ever made

How could one man have slipped through your force's fingers time and time again? How is it possible? This is not some agent provocateur or highly-trained assassin we are discussing. Gordon Freeman is a theoretical physicist who had hardly earned the distinction of his Ph.D. at the time of the Black Mesa Incident. I have good reason to believe that in the intervening years, he was in a state that precluded further development of covert skills. The man you have consistently failed to slow, let alone capture, is by all standards simply that -- an ordinary man. How can you have failed to apprehend him? Well...I will leave the upbraiding for another time, to the extent it proves necessary. Now is the moment to redeem yourselves.

On the copy of Half-Life 2 that I bought, the box bears a lot of blurbs of praise. Over 35 Game of the Year Awards! Five stars from this reviewer, a perfect 10 from this reviewer! But the most conspicuous glares at you from the front cover: "The best game ever made." This comes from Maximum PC. I saw that quote and chortled. I mean, if I'm selling the game, I put that quote on the cover, too, can't blame them for that. But doesn't that just lead to high expectations that can't possibly be matched?

Well. I'm assuming that Maximum PC covers only PC games. If that's true, then the answer to that last question Half-Life 2 is the best PC game ever made.

All it had to do to win that prize was be better than its predecessor, which was no small feat. The original Half-Life was more than just the best first-person shooter, it completely redefined them and recreated them in its own image. It cranked realism to a level unmatched (before or since, frankly), turned run-and-run gameplay into a cinematic experience that left you breathless, and then crammed in a few exceedingly clever puzzles to hit you in the brain. Half-Life was just about perfect -- until its final stage, when it suddenly became a exercise in pinpoint platform jumping that lead to one of the most infuriating, anticlimactic endings in video game history.

Half-Life 2 improves on the first game in every single way. Every way -- the graphics are better, the world is more immersive, the physics engine is incredible, the new weapons are clever and fun, and the entire game feels like a living, breathing world. A living, breathing world overrun by a genetically-enhanced human military acting as the pawns of a foul race of interdimensional aliens called the Combine, yes, but living and breathing nevertheless.

You spent almost of all of the last game trapped in tiny corridors and cramped air vents, so the first half of this one opens things up. With the entire Combine Overwatch chasing you, you duck into sewers and drainage ducts and hop into boats and dune buggies to flee across the countryside. This leads to the beach, and nightmarish encounters with the hideous Antlions, savage beasts that rush at you from out of the sand in hordes.

And just when I was thinking -- and remarking to a few people -- that the game was losing some of the claustrophobia that made the original so compelling, the game switches gears. Now, you're lead into a series of raids on Combine strongholds, and you're once again hiding from soldiers in corners and hiding desperately from sentry guns. The intensity builds and builds and builds, and never lets up again -- and then it builds up even more, once the battle returns to the ruined streets of City 17, and you find yourself a single fighter in a massive gun battle between the rebels and the Overwatch...who, of course, remembered to bring their gunships and heavy artillery.

Seriously, I've never been this blown away by a PC game. In fact, there's only a handful of console games that I've loved this much -- Chrono Trigger. Silent Hill 2. Zelda. Maybe Metal Gear Solid 2. And that's it.

The game has just been rereleased in a glorious Orange Box -- this includes Half-Life 2, the two mini-sequels (Half-Life 2: Episode One and Episode Two, which the creators admit should have been called Half-Life 3), the multi-player Team Fortress 2, and the first-person puzzler Portal, which has been called brilliant by just about everybody. I think it goes without saying that you should buy this fucking thing right now what are you waiting for seriously go right now.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to start Episode One.

Now playing: Talking Heads - Life During Wartime
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Radiohead - In Rainbows

So, Radiohead released their much-anticipated seventh album last week. Is it any good? Well...

Yes. Yes, it is. It's the best album they've done in seven years. You should get it already. (Hey, it's free.)

Now playing: Radiohead - Reckoner
via FoxyTunes

Friday, October 12, 2007

Peace, love and understanding

Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Reactions to this are mixed.

I like the lady who says that global warming isn't happening because of us, and "there are many scientists out there" who say so. Oh, okay. With such robust research as that, how can I argue? Clearly, the many more scientists who agree with Mr. Gore are wrong.

Though there is a question as to why they've been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. If anything, he's just started a bunch of fights.

Now playing: Jim Rome - Fri, October 12th, 2007 Hour 1
via FoxyTunes

Scotty of the dead

A website I've never heard of is reporting that Simon Pegg -- from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz -- is going to play Scotty in the new Star Trek film. Also, John Cho -- Harold from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle -- will play Sulu. They'll join Sylar, who's playing Spock.

I have no objections to this.

Now playing: Radiohead - Jigsaw Falling Into Place
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm betting Chekov will show up next

(Heroes spoilers, if you haven't already watched "Kindred," the most recent episode.)

In the world of pen-and-paper RPGs, there are foul creatures called "munchkins." These are players who develop characters -- usually using loopholes in the rules -- that are so ludicrously overpowered that they hinder the enjoyment of the game for everyone else. Weaknesses lead to drama, since they mean a character is vulnerable; if a character is too powerful, he or she becomes boring. And -- generally speaking -- really, really, really annoying.

Take Hiro. He can stop time and move through space. And he's not bad with a sword. But he's also fairly weak, physically. (At least for now -- wait for Future Hiro to come back.) And his power means nothing if he takes seven inches of a knife in his chest. Parkman: he can hear thoughts, but he can't fly away from an explosion. They're powerful, but not too much. Good characters!

Peter Petrelli, on the other hand, is telepathic, telekinetic, can fire electricity from his fingertips, can turn invisible, has superhuman strength, can teleport, see the future, and is invincible.

See what I mean?

So, wow, the second season of Heroes has sure started off with a bang, huh? If by "bang" you mean...uh...something negative. 'Cause it's not good.

Hey, it's late. I'm tired.

The bad:
  • I'm not digging the new characters, Maya and Alejandro. Maybe they'll get better eventually?
  • Claire's storyline is simply atrociously written, at least thus far. I'm just not feeling the tension about her imminent capture, especially since Bennett is going all Rambo on his boss at Copy Kingdom. Why does he still have a job? And why is Claire's only class Biology? And why can the students simply leave the classroom and return whenever it suits them? And don't we already have a Hero who can fly?
  • Speaking of people who can fly, what the hell is with Nathan's beard? He grows a luxurious beaver pelt on his face in only four months? I didn't shave for almost a year and a half and didn't have that kind of coat. But hey, at least his story stuff hasn't that bad. I mean, it's not like he got amnesia and woke up surrounded by actors who were sick the day they taught Irish accents at acting school.
  • Did I mention I didn't like Peter Petrelli?
  • Hey, Sylar's back. *yawn*
  • Aw, dammit, I thought they'd forgotten about Micah and Niki. But now Micah's going to be staying with...Uhura? (Well, Sulu's dead. And no way do I trust Shatner with a kid.)
  • Seriously: Peter Petrelli, a member of the Boondock Saints? Give me a break. (And is there a shortage of actual Irish actors they could get to play thugs? Though I just remembered that the head Irish gang guy was the "This man's name is Robert Paulson" guy in Fight Club.)
  • Did this episode go overboard on the cheap green-screen effects, or what?
The good:
  • Hiro! As usual, his stuff has been downright golden. I don't know if it's the writing, or the raw joy that Masi Oka brings to the performance, but Hiro continues to be the star of this show. It's not even close.
  • The stuff with Parkman and Molly will eventually get interesting, I'm sure. They're just in the season-opening holding pattern.
  • Um...uh...
  • This episode didn't feature an annoying, pretentious voice-over from Suresh.
  • I just got this new Radiohead album for free!
Hey: I know it's bad. But the season just started. I'm a Lost fan, remember -- I know to ride out the season-opening holding pattern. I think we'll be just fine.

I hope.

Now playing: Radiohead - 15 Step
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 08, 2007

My sense of accomplishment is completely divorced from the actual importance of the achievement

I took a break from playing Half-Life 2 a little while ago. The game is incredible -- I'd almost say it's better than the original, which is one of the best games ever made. The scope is bigger, the battles more strategic, the music is good, and the story is engrossing; seriously, play this game if you haven't already.

While taking a break, I began contemplating the idea of Half-Life 2 entering the Holy Pantheon. I then thought about the other games on that list, the ones I haven't played in ages. So I fired up my NES emulator and started playing a few old Nintendo games. I played a little Super Mario, a little Ninja Gaiden 2. I tried to play a few wrestling games, but the ROMs were corrupted. I even decided to play the old warhorse, that bane of my existence, Fester's Quest. Fester's Quest, of course, is the ludicrously difficult game that has been kicking my ass for fifteen years now.

So, what the hell? I loaded it and played for a little while.

And, holy shit--

I beat Fester's Quest!

As predicted, I made a fool of myself jumping around my apartment like an idiot.

It would help here to explain why the game is so damn hard -- because it was obviously made for about $500 over a three-day weekend. The game is so rampantly buggy that you'll occasionally run into spots where enemies will respawn infinitely, and if you don't have lightning reflexes, you'll be overrun and killed (since it only takes two hits to kill you).

But I overcame all of that. I picked up the two extra health bars, which I'd never found before (that was helpful). I beat the fourth boss, which was the farthest I'd been before. I destroyed the fifth boss (really, it was pathetically simple). I mastered the final labyrinth -- you get a item late in the game that summons Lurch to destroy all enemies on the screen; I used every goddamn one of them.

And I marched up to the final boss, and defeated it with...relative ease. And that was that -- Fester's Quest is my cross to bear no more.

That screenshot I saved? That's all the reward I get. That, and my sense of relief.

But you know what? It turns's not really all that hard -- it's just badly, horribly designed. It's broken, to tell the truth.

Now, this? This is hard.

Fester's Quest? Not so much. Will that stop me from being overly elated at its demise? Of course not.

Now playing: Ringo Starr - I'm the Greatest
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, October 07, 2007



Why do I listen to talk radio? All it does is make me angry, and I end up screaming alone in my car, shrieking at an idiot on the radio who can't hear me, and the other drivers look at me funny. I end up with a headache and a sore throat, and they're still stupid. Why do I do this to myself?

I was listening to former comedian Dennis Miller's radio show tonight. Now, I had a perfectly good reason -- he wasn't disseminating his usual conservative hackery. He was talking about old movies, and several callers were discussing old favorites that they can watch over and over again. I was bored, couldn't find the baseball game on the radio, so I listened to this instead.

And then, from nowhere, this dingbat named (I think) Cathy calls the show.
Hi, Dennis! I'm a really big fan of the show!
Okay. First of all: why do the callers of talk radio shows always feel it necessary to point out that they're big fans? Obviously you're a big fan, you're listening to it, and now you're calling the show.

I wanted to talk a little about the war.
Oh, man. Here we go. Still, this isn't Rush Limbaugh's show, or Sean Hannity's. How bad could it be?
You know, seems to me that the people who say we didn't do enough to prevent 9/11 are the same ones who say we shouldn't be in Iraq.
Um...yeah. Yes. We're called "liberals." We comprise a sizeable percentage of the electorate. Welcome to the now, Cathy!
You know, we have an all-volunteer army. I mean, I know it's sad when someone has to be sacrificed to protect our freedom, but...I mean, until they start drafting people, I don't think we have any right to complain.


So...because...the soldiers...volunteered to join...we can't complain when we send them overseas to die in a pointless war, and their sacrifice is wasted in a useless display of our President's ego and incompetence? Is that what you're saying? Did that sound rational when you thought it?



Seriously. I gotta quit listening to the radio.

Now playing: Kanye West - Barry Bonds
via FoxyTunes

Gee, Chang not see that coming

Rawga Clemens gave up three runs and left in the third inning with a hamstring injury. Wow, that's a surprise. Were you surprised? I was surprised. That's eleventy billion dollars well-spent, eh, Yankees? Of course, the rest of the team actually managed to pull it together and win the damn game without him, which shows they still have some spark. That actually is a shock.

A-Rod's postseason batting average is now .200, if you're counting. Which I am. For no real reason, except that the other playoffs series were all three-and-out (so much for my baseless prediction of the Angels winning it all), so the Yanks-Indians are all I have to focus on.

I dread the Yankees making a comeback. Not only because I hate the Yankees, and certainly not because I like the Indians, but because really -- do we want to see the Red Sox and Yankees again? That rivalry is played out, seriously. It's like watching Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker for the fourteenth time to headline a pay-per-view. Move on!

(That's a wrestling reference that not everyone will understand. But the analogy is potent, I assure you. For fun, figure out which of those teams would be the Undertaker.)

Ah well. May the best team win! Unless it's the Yankees.

Now playing: The Decemberists - I Was Meant for the Stage
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, October 06, 2007

How to make a music video for fifty bucks and a book of stamps, starring Regina Spektor

Well, you don't really need much more than that, do you?

(Frankly, they could've gotten away with just Regina, by herself on the hill, staring into the camera and singing. Or, hell, just grinning. My demands are minimal.)

Now playing: Regina Spektor - Ghost of Corporate Future
via FoxyTunes

I've got your mystique right here

So, here's a big shock: the Yankees are down 2-0, one win away from being tossed from the playoffs in the first round...again. They haven't made it to the second round since 2004. Haven't made it to the World Series since 2003. Haven't won since 2000.

Yes: they're the 21st century's answer to the Atlanta Braves, who won their division every year from 1991 to 2005 and only won the Series once.

Why? Why does this great baseball team so consistently fall apart -- in such spectacular fashion -- in the postseason, often to a seemingly inferior team like the Indians? (Or the Red Sox, or Tigers, or Diamondbacks, or Angels, or...?) Performance anxiety? Nerves? Bad luck?

Or is it -- gasp! -- that the Yankees aren't that good to begin with.

Look at it this way: playing in the American League East, the Yankees play most of their games against their division rivals. This includes the top-shelf Boston Red Sox, yes, but it also means the Yankees are spending most of their time beating up on the likes of the Devil Rays and Orioles...two teams with a combined record of 132-189. (The other team in their division, the Blue Jays, managed to scrape to a winning record, though just barely.) The Indians, meanwhile, managed the same record as the Yankees, but played in a slightly tougher division: the worst team, the Royals, had the same finish as the fourth-place team in the East.

The Braves of the 90s and early 00s had the same problem: they won their division with ease each year, but did so against the Mets, Marlins, Phillies, and Expos (later the Nationals), four organizations that fielded mediocre teams, if they were lucky.

And once they got into the playoffs and matched up against good teams...well, the Braves couldn't hack it.

The Yankees teams of the late 90s -- those were great teams. But nowadays, they're old, bloated, and injury-prone. Much like their expected Game 3 starter, Rawga Clemens, whose inability to perform in the clutch is infamous.

Oh, and A-rod? Through the first two games, he's batting a robust .000. Yay!

Of course, the Yankees could erupt, win 3 straight to get to the LCS, and then eight in a row to win everything and make me look like a fool. Such is baseball. Such is life.

I love the playoffs.

Now playing: The Decemberists - Eli, The Barrow Boy
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 01, 2007

The members of Radiohead are fucking crazy

So we've awaited a new Radiohead album since....well, since about a week after the release of the last one, the excellent Hail to the Thief, in 2003. A few weeks ago, they announced that the record was finished, but the actual release was filled with problems. Namely, they have no record label -- their deal with EMI expired, and Radiohead has no intent of re-signing. The expectation was that the album would drop next year.

Until today, that is, when the band announced that the new album -- entitled In Rainbows -- will be available for digital download on October 10. Which, if you're looking at a calendar, you'll notice is next week.

Holy shit!

You can also pre-order an actual physical disc that comes with an extra disc of music, both CDs on vinyl (!), plus album artwork and other goodies. This "discbox" is somewhere around $80 (damn tricky currency conversions). Yikes, huh? So, how much is the digital download?

However much you want.

No, seriously:

No, no, really:

Holy shit!

And before you ask...yes, you can choose to pay $0.00.

If you're looking for the polar opposite to the Guns N' Roses Chinese Democracy debacle (you remember, that album promised in 2006, which has been finished for six months, and still hasn't been released), here you go.

So: a new Radiohead album, out of nowhere, for free (if you're cheap), in ten days. I think I just heard the internet exploding.