Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Praise Be to the Football Gods

Praise be to the Football Gods, who, in Their divine wisdom, have smiled upon the Redskins thereby allowing the 'Skins a chance at the post season! Praise be!

I have been a Redskins fan since they beat the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. I can remember my 5th grade teacher giving us extended recess every time the 'Skins won a playoff game, culminating in a full day of recess after the Super Bowl win, and a party, complete with popcorn, to watch the homecoming parade. I can vividly remember watching TV as John Riggins barrelled down the sidelines, a Miami defender helplessly hanging on to his leg. Since that time I have enjoyed watching them win the Super Bowl twice more, and have suffered through many the losing season, these past 6 years being nigh unbearable, particularly because I was living in DC and unable to escape the endless coverage of their craptitude. The signing of Deion Sanders was a particularly low point in my life, and one that I look back on with scorn and derision.

Through it all, I have never once entertained the notion of liking another team. Sure I have shown interest in AFC teams due to certain members helping me to win FFL Super Bowls (Steve McNair comes to mind), but even when the Redskins were at their lowest point, I have never waivered in my devotion. Complained? Yes. Bitched and moaned? Certainly. But waivered? Never. I have also never missed wearing a jersey on game day since I started the tradition several years ago. My children now share in this tradition and I have told my wife that my kids can be whatever they want, gay, straight, whatever, but if they become Dallas fans, they're out of the will.

I believe in the Redskins. I also believe in the Football Gods, that mystic pantheon of deities that watch over football matches and grant their favor to those teams that show guts, patience and fortitude on the field. The Football Gods smile upon those teams that use the run to set up the pass. On those that go for it on 4th and 2. On those that aren't afraid to try for 2 to avoid overtime.

On many occasions, the Redskins have run afoul of the Football Gods. Having a phenomenal running back in Stephen Davis, and wasting him on some god-awful pass-heavy, Steve Spurrier offensive monstrosity incurred their wrath. Insisting on signing talented individuals who were concerned with nothing but their own stats, rather than the good of the team, cost them the favor of the Football Gods. Even this season, when their balanced attack and stalwart defense were pleasing to the Gods, they ran up the score against the hapless 49ers one week, and were rewarded with a full-on ass whupping at the hands of the Giants the next. Trifle not with the Football Gods, lest ye be punished.

So, as we entered these last few weeks of the season, and the Redskins faced down three divisional opponents in a row, a stretch of games the outcome of which would decide whether or not the Redskins made it to the playoffs, I turned to the Football Gods for help. As anyone who plays in Fantasy Football Leagues will tell you, the FFL playoffs and Super Bowl are all held in the weeks leading up to the end of the regular season, the idea being that the star players are all still playing well to get those coveted real life playoff spots. I was well on my way to making an appearance in my FFL's Super Bowl, and while money wasn't involved, a lot of effort is involved from week to week to not care about the outcome of the season.

With this in mind, I made a plea to the Football Gods on the day of the Dallas game. Take my FFL Team. Take my Vegas Odds Pick'em Score. Take them both, but smile upon the Redskins. For the Football Gods are the Old Gods, and the Old Gods demand sacrifice. The Redskins completely demolished the Cowboys, I moved into first place in the Vegas pool, and moved on to the FFL Super Bowl. While I was happy for the Redskins, I was concerned for it would appear that my sacrifice was not accepted. As it turns out, I was incorrect. Both of my running backs were injured, causing me to make last minute drafts. I entered the FFL Super Bowl unsure as to my prospects, but mindful of my promise.

Again, prior to the Giants game, I made the same promise. This time, the Football Gods took their payment. The Redskins beat the Giants, and I lost to my opponent in the FFL Super Bowl, by an amount that would have been easily surpassed had I started one of my original WR's. The full measure of the Football Gods' plan was then apparent to me. The sacrifice that I was making would be the hardest to make, only if it were the championship game, and only if it were such that I felt it was preventable. They are wise in their ways, the Football Gods are. Was I upset? Surely, for one doesn't play unless one expects to win, but my dissappointment in losing is nothing compared to my excitement that the Redskins are one win away from their first post-season appearance since 1999.

This week, I have nothing to give but my Vegas Odds score, which I will gladly give up for their favor. It is a small price to pay to see my beloved Redskins achive some semblance of the glory that they once held. Plus, I really fucking hate the Eagles.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Best of 2005 Awards

It's that time of year again, time to dig deep into ye olde memory sack and recognize the best moments of 2005. Rather than have some formal award categories I'm just going to bust some crazy freestyle shit on ya. Time to get crack-a-lackin'.

Best Trip
One would think that the trip we took to get our daughter would be best trip, but that trip was an excersise in pure fucking misery. Yes, the end result was great, but the trip itself was shit. No, this year, the Best Trip award goes to the trip that we took to Atlanta to buy our house. That trip had it's share of misery in it as well, but we did manage to have some good dinners out, we got to spend more time in Atlanta to be sure that we wanted to live here, and we ended up being in the right place at the right time to get our house, at about $40k less than what it should have been priced at. We also got to spend 2 days with a realtor who was spawned in the pits of Hell, which gave us plenty to talk about for months and months.

Best Movie I Saw In the Theater
It's rare for the missus and I to actually go to the movies, due to the fact that we have kids, and we have a theater in our basement that neither a) charges 20 bucks for movies, b) smells like popcorn and cat piss and c) has unruly teenagers who can barely control their hormonal responses. However there are a few movies that we will make the trek out to take in. This year, I distinctly remember "Star Wars Episode 3", "Fantastic Four" (I had a free ticket), "Batman Begins", "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and this year's hands down winner, "Serenity". Along with being just a kick-ass movie, Serenity was the extension of one of our most favorite TV shows ever, so the level of excitement was very high. Add to that the fact that it actually delivered, and I ditched work to see it, and you have a very hard film to beat. I know that some of you (Bones, I'm looking at you) will be shocked and dismayed to not see Batman Begins take this prize, but allow me to explain. There's a scene in "Saving Private Ryan", where Tom Hanks is talking about his wife working in the rose garden, and when he's prompted to talk more about it, he says something like "No. That one's for me." That's what Batman is. I have a great deal of emotion invested in that character to the point where no movie could ever live up to what I have in my head, nor would I want it to. To paraphrase, that one's for me.

Best Magazine That Makes Me Feel Like An Idiot
That would be The Economist. I started reading The Economist to get a more worldly view of things, as well as get a view of the US from outside of the States. The Economist fits the bill for both things nicely. Plus, it covers pretty much the entire planet, so it's guaranteed that every week I'll learn something new. For example, did you know that in Quebec, margarine has to be white? Yep. The dairy council doesn't want the citizens of Quebec to confuse margarine with butter so in order to sell margarine in Quebec, it has to be white. Never mind the fact that "Margarine" and "Butter" only share two letters, and that they aren't packaged in clear boxes and that my margerine comes in a big brown tub and my butter comes in a box with an indian on it. I guess when all of your country's citizens have health care and all consenting adults can be in legally recognized committed unions, all you have left is to worry about dairy. Ha! Actually Canada is in the midst of some fucked up shit, fucked up shit I learned about by reading The Economist. One word of warning, a lot happens in the world in one week, so if you do decide to subscribe, don't plan on being able to take an issue into the toilet and finish it up over your morning constitution, unless said constitution spans several days.

Best Sandwich
This one was pretty much locked up until this past weekend. There's a chain of delis here (Jason's Deli) that has a sandwich called the New York Yankee. It's about 3 pounds of corned beef, three pounds of pastrami and some swiss cheese all on rye bread. No condiments, no vegetables, just paper thin brisket mingling in spicy harmony. Combine it with their potato salad and you'd be hard pressed to beat it. Or so I thought. Enter Bobby G's a Chicago style eatery here in Alpharetta. They have a sandwich called The Superior Avenue Super Combo that is the Divine come to Earth and made sandwich. Imagine a hoagie roll, sliced open and filled with either hot or mild sausage. Now place tasty, simmered meatballs every place that there isn't sausage and lovingly drape Italian Beef over the whole thing. Cover all the meat with mozzerella and provelone and toast the sandiwich to melt the cheese and crisp up the bun. It is fucking amazing. And at 7 bucks a pop, you'll be in the ICU in no time.

Best Potato Chip
What's a sandwich without chips? Target sells these Archer Farms Parmesan Garlic potato chips that are like little crack snack chips. The fact that I'm at Target every week buying some movie or cd means that I can get my fix weekly. Alas, this will have to end with the new year as I'm starting to gain back all the weight I lost in Russia. I'm lovingly staring at a bag now, trying to figure out how to tell it that our illicit union can't continue.

Best Despoiled Starlet
This one is pretty much a no-brainer. Some may think it's Britney Spears, but she was never unspoiled in my opinion. No, this year's award has to go to Katie Holmes. I got nothing against Tom Cruise. He's a good actor. I count many of his films as some of my favorites, but I think he's somewhat crazy. The fact that he's now pulled Katie Holmes into his web of lunacy and used her to sire his heir, kind or irritates me. Not that I ever had a chance with Ms. Holmes, but up until now, she was my go to actress in the event I had to pick someone from Hollywood to think of in naughty ways. No more. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Obviously more so for me than for her.

Hottest Woman on TV
Man, was this a tough one. This year has just been overflowing with attractive women on tv. First we have the return of Alyson Hannigan on "How I Met Your Mother". She's always been a favorite of mine, but between being a lesbian, and channeling massive amounts of dark power on Buffy, I felt Willow to be a tad inaccessible. Her new character, Lily, is a cute, hard partying kindergarten teacher. The character plays well to Hannigan's strengths and is extremely well acted with the right touch of Willow innocence and American Pie lustiness. Then you have Cobie Smulders, who plays Robin on the same show. Wow. She reminds me very much of Jennifer Connelly which is like being reminded of sunshine and apple pie. The show itself is really funny, and the fact that there are two very attractive women on it don't hurt. We also have the return of Paula Marshall to tv, on "Out of Practice" also a very good sit-com on CBS. Charlize Theron was on "Arrested Development" for 5 episodes, Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledell look better every year on "Gilmore Girls" and Emily Deschanel elevates the tank top to high art on "Bones". Hot, hot, hot, hot and hot. However, one woman, rose above all the others to take the award for this year. That would be Kristen Bell, who plays Veronica Mars on the series of the same name. A fantastic actress on a great show and she just happens to be drop-your-laundry, amazingly hot. Check her out in the movie "Spartan" or in the first season of "Deadwood" as half of a conniving brother-sister team. The only thing better than snarky Kristen Bell is angry, profanity spewing Kristen Bell.

Best Use of Carla Gugino's Assets
"Sin City". Wow. I mean, just, wow.

Best Slogan I Saw On A Church Messageboard
"Worry is the thief of joy." I liked this one because it wasn't preachy, it didn't rely on puns, but mostly because it was 100% correct. This was a big year of worries for us. We were worried about the move, then worried about me being unemployed, then worried about the adoption. All of it turned out ok, and in retrospect, our worries were unfounded. Granted, hindsight is 20/20, but hopefully a year of worries that ended up being nothing will teach me that worrying does nothing but make you miss out on the life you're currently living.

Ugliest Chicken
Wow. That is one fucking ugly chicken.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Xbox 360 Initial Impressions

I finally got my 360 and it was not without drama. As I mentioned before, I didn't get one at launch, but I finally managed to snag one off of the mythical second shipment. Not sure how that happened. When I called the store on Tuesday I was told that they only got 2 units in, one was for a preorder and one was for someone who needed their busted unit replaced. 20 minutes later the store calls home and tells me (well, not me, my brother-in-law if you want the truth) that they had an "extra" one. Um, OK. No, I didn't ask where the extra one came from. My initial thought was that maybe they were going to give me the one that was being returned as defective, but all the parts were safely entombed in plastic upon opening the box, so I'm pretty sure that tampering was nonexistant. There's still some preorder credit business I have to work out with the manager, but I wasn't about to leave my console there over a measly 20 bucks.

Setup was uneventful. I think that Microsoft must have controlling interest in a plastic company as pretty much everything was nestled in it's own bag. I gave them to the baby to play with. In minutes she was sleeping, so mission accomplished. I kid! All the cables were plenty long enough to accomodate my setup, which was refreshing. Usually I need to move things all over the place to get it the way it needs to be.

The unit itself looks pretty nice, certainly better than the Xbox. I've heard the words "sleek" and "sexy" bandied about but personally, I think it's rubbish. A 350Z is sleek and my wife is sexy but their sleek-and-sexiness is important because neither one of them have been shoved in my entertainment cabinet where noone can see them. The PSP was sleek and it had shit for games. The iPod is sexy, but my Creative Zen player had more functionality and cost less, so let's not get too caught up in how the damn thing looks.

The controller isn't something I think about, which is probably the biggest compliment I can give a controller. The original Xbox controller was a painful exercise in anti-ergonomics. The 360 controller is very much like the WaveBird (big surprise there) in that it's small, it's wireless and all of the buttons are very easy to find. I do like that I can press the Guide button and turn the unit on from the seat, but seeing how 9 times out of 10 I'd have to get up to put a game in, it isn't as useful as the remote for your TV.

They've done some really cool things with how all of the different parts of the 360 work together. I haven't spent much time with the media streaming functionality as I'm usually playing games that require me to pay attention to the ingame sounds, but should I ever get my hands on a racing game, I'll definitely be looking into how to stream music off of my iPod. The ability to pause your game and interact with the dashboard is very cool, although it's not as robust as I had imagined. There are still a fair number of things that will end your game session, but I guess that's to be expected. Not having read too much about it ahead of time, I expected a lot more. Curse my foul ignorance!

Games look good. Call of Duty 2 is pretty damn good looking and has a ton going on at once. Those pesky Germans are at it again, and it's up to you to recreate some of WWII's hairiest battles and lead the allies to victory. Or something. Perfect Dark Zero looks kind of plastic-y, like the special effects in the Star Wars prequels, and the movement speed is slow to the point of being distracting. Condemned has some nice menus but I haven't touched a lick of gameplay. The games aren't anything I would expect from a Next Generation system however they're exactly what I'd expect at launch, if that makes any sense. 6 - 12 months from now, the games that will be coming out for this thing will be probably be nothing less than staggering.

The Xbox Live Marketplace is where this thing really shines. On Monday, the trailer for X3 was available online. I watched it on my laptop and thought it was pretty cool, despite Dr. Frasier Crane being cast as Beast. By Thursday I could download the trailer to the 360 and watch the trailer in glorious Hi-Def on my 92" movie screen. That's cool. There's a ton of game related content to purchase as well, including themes for your 360 and pictures for your Gamercard. There are also demos of classic arcade games like Joust and Smash TV as well as new games such as Bankshot Billiards and other more puzzle-type games. I think that Bankshot Billiards is the most expensive at 1200 points (around 15 bucks). Given that it's a full blown billiards simulator that allows you to play online with other people, it's an incredible bargain for 15 dollars. I know it seems silly to pay 400 bucks for the console, just so you can play pool, but these kinds of games are games that the casual gamer can play, which is always a good thing. Also, it provides a distribution model for developers that create simpler, non-multibillion sellers. Basically it allows independent developers to bypass the retail chain altogether and get their games in front of folks that usually wouldn't look at them. The fact that you can download free demos of the games is brilliant too. This, and the ability to offer gamers things like new content, or just theme packs for them to customize their 360's, is what will really set the 360 apart from the other consoles.

It's too early to say whether or not the wait was worth it, but so far things look promising. The games that come out in another few months, once the original launch games have been exhausted will really tell the tale. In the meantime, who's up for some 8-ball?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stop Me Before I Prune Again

It has come to my attention that we face a grave crisis in this country. The ease with which clumsy, incompetent yard-oafs such as myself can obtain deadly weapons is staggering. No, I'm not talking about your conventional weapons like pistols, shotguns or tactical nuclear missles, I'm talking about that subset of devices used to tame the most overrun of yards and bushes. Since moving here, I have obtained a number of these items with nary a backround check or even the most rudimentary investigations into my sanity or mental condition. In the hands of someone slightly more unhinged than I, these items could weave a tapesty of destruction across this land. Bear witness to my horticultural arsenal.

The Pruner
Imagine, if you can, a 9 foot long flexible shaft, capable of extending to 14 feet. Take said shaft and attach a 13 inch saw blade on the end of it, right above the hook that hides a springloaded blade capable of taking off a man's finger. Now add a 12 foot long length of cord that's anchored by a half pound piece of wood and you have 14' Compound Action Tree Pruner.

This particular piece of lawn equipment looks less like something you use to trim trees and more like something you get when you face down a mini-boss in your AD&D campaign. In fact, were I to come up with a name and a mythical backstory for my Tree Pruner, it would look something like this:

Three Brothers
Horuk, Chakti and Kural were simple farmers who wanted nothing of battle until an evil overlord invaded their lands and demanded that all who lived there swore fealty. Wishing nothing more than to be left alone, the brothers tried to avoid conflict until the overlord raided their village, killing all but the three brothers. Realizing that they were unable to defeat their foe on their own, the brothers prayed to their gods for the power to deliver their lands from oppression. This power came in the form of an idea, that separate they were but simple farmers, but together they were a force to be reckoned with. They challenged the overlord to battle, and the overlord, foolishly thinking he was no match for 3 peasants agreed. If he were to lose, his forces would withdraw forever, if he were to win, the brothers sacrificed their lives. As the battle started, the brothers circled their foe. With a quick strike from Horuk's staff the overlord was caught off balance and forced to focus his attention on Horuk, allowing Chakti to ensnare the overlord with his chain and pull him onto Kural's saw. In a moment the battle was over, the overlord was defeated and nothing remained but repayment to the gods. In a flash of lightning, the brothers were gone, called to the gods they prayed to, but this weapon remained, a testament to the power men can wield when working together.
+3 to hit
1d10 blunt damage
2d4 slashing damage
25% chance of casting Entanglement on successful hit

See! That's some serious shit! At the very least I feel like some sort of mythical warrior as I teach my holly trees just who is boss. At night I can hear their fevered whisperings, as they wonder who will be trimmed on the morrow.

The Blower
Technically this is a blower and a leaf vacuum, however there's not a lot that's dangerous about a leaf vacuum unless you decide to try and simulate some hickeys and end up pulling your jugular out of your neck. The blower, on the other hand, is a force to be reckoned with.

As we were researching blowers, it would appear that the number one factor into how well your blower can clear yard debris is the speed in which the air will come roaring out of your blower. 240MPH!!!! the boxes all scream. Their leaves must be heavier than my leaves. Perhaps they have cement trees or bedrock bushes, but to clear my leaves you need to go 40, maybe 50 tops. 240 MPH seems a bit excessive. Now, leaves, by themselves won't cause too much of a problem as long as they stay under light speed, but what can cause problems are these spiky horse chestnut things that drop from the trees and promptly harden up to the consistancy of diamond. If given a choice between carrying an M-16 into battle and carrying a 240MPH leaf blower and a bag of death chestnuts, I'll take the deathnuts any time. One shot from my Deathnuts and you'll have a hole in your chest bigh enough to store a loaf of bread in. Granted I need an outlet to keep my blower powered up, but I'm sure there's some sort of backpack generator that the military has come up with. They're smart fellows over there.

The Hedger
A hedger by itself is kind of scary. This one has a battery pack so that I can run rampant over the entire neighborhood for a horrifying 40 minutes before having to recharge for roughly 17 days. This thing is loud, like loud enough to cause startled expressions on small children and it can cut through a 1/4 inch branch like no one's business. What makes this particular hedger even scarier is the person who wields it. Consider these facts. Fact 1: Upon using my super-sharp Santoku blade for the first time, I ran my finger along the blade to remove the chopped carrots, almost removing my finger in the process. Fact 2: I have, on several occasions, cut my leg with the same knife because I wiped it clean on my pants, forgetting the fact that I was wearing shorts instead of pants. Fact 3: I have very little feeling in the tip of my left thumb, the hand that is used to hold whatever I'm chopping, due to the fact that I've repeatedly sliced, chopped and otherwise let blood from it. In fact, now, unless I get a good 1/4 inch cut there, it doesn't even bleed. Take a set of moving, clattering death blades and putting them in my hands is the very definition of lunacy.

You may have noticed that all of these tools are either red, or bright orange as if to unleash primal feelings of rage as I tend to my bushes. The very fact that I have to tend to my bushes gets me angry enough. You throw a screaming orange blower in my hand and I'm going to be looking to tear shit up.

I have mentioned, on many occasions, my concerns regarding my imminent delimbification when pruning to my wife, in the hopes that she would see that I am uniquely unqualified to wield these weapons of mass deforestation but she is singularly unrelenting. Once my Accidental Death and Dismemberment plan comes through, I may have to see what the going price is for losing a finger. That'll teach her a lesson. A five thousand dollar lesson. Cha-ching.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Hiatus Over

Howdy. Well, that hiatus ended up being longer than I expected. This would be the point where I apologize for being gone so long. Some folks don't believe in aplogizing for being gone, but I want you to actually come back, so I feel that some effort should be made to be the least bit conciliatory. Sorry I was gone so long, I was obtaining a child. Happy?

Said child is thriving, well as much as one can thrive and refuse to eat solid food at the same time. This is a point of contention at the moment as her age (13 months) says that she should be wolfing down t-bone steaks and glasses of Crystal but the sad truth is that she reacts to microscopic Cheerio pieces as if we're making her consume evil. I think it's a developmental delay. 12 months in an orphanage can tend to make one lag in some areas, for her it's eating. Frankly, I'd rather it be walking as I'm tired of walking around my house hunched over with a baby attached to my fingers, but when requesting our child, there was no checkbox for 'hobbled'.

While we have been unsuccessful in getting her to eat, Linda did manage to teach her how to clap, a major milestone if ever there was one. Now she can show appreciation and "give it up" for the opening bands. By January she'll be able to throw up the horns. She's generally pretty happy, except when being restrained. In other words, she's happy as long as she's not in the car seat, in a shopping cart, in the high chair or in the stroller. This rules out eating, driving, going for a walk and touring a retail establishment lest you want to put up with a symphony of unhappiness. She just has to get used to these things, but man, if ever someone wished that their child could walk, that someone is me. And Linda. That somepeople is us.

On the plus side, her brother absolutely loves her to the point where sometimes I feel he's a better parent than we are. He's very sensitive to her crying, which can make for some tense moments, especially at 3 in the morning when she's up crying and then he's up crying and the house sounds like a nursery of devil children. When we put Abby down for a nap, she usually protests, as children are wont to do, and does so by screaming to the point where her lungs leap from her chest and adhere to the ceiling. Ben will bring this crying to our attention and we'll tell him that his sister is fine. Nothing makes you feel like a good parent like your 3 year old giving you a look that plainly says "do you not hear that?"

They seem to be sharing things well, but invariably, whatever he's playing with she wants and whatever he's playing with she wants, which is fine most of the time, until he starts playing with something she can't have like firearms or battery acid. We have strict rules in our home, one of which is "No solid food, no shotguns" so she's pretty much SOL. We've been able to manage the conflicts reasonably well so far which means that the police haven't been called. Yet.

One unfortunate side affect of having a baby in the house is that Ben, who used to be so good with the talking, has regressed. Before Abby, he used to rattle off 6 - 7 word sentences in very clear English. He'll still do it sometimes when she's napping or not around, but for the most part he's happy to repeat whatever she says or try and teach her gibberish words like "Lee-loo" and "Studa". Maybe there's some sort of toddler language I'm not aware of and if they both speak it they can plot against us, but to the untrained observer it sound like he's trying to teach her to be stupid. I think it's because in her, he has a captive audience, even if she's not imitating him but is looking at him as one looks at a very dull child, or a very ugly puppy. We're hoping he grows out of it because I don't speak toddler and when I ask him what he wants to drink for dinner and he answers "Lee-loo" I want to shove the cup places cups truly don't belong.

In other news, I'm patiently awaiting my 360. "What?" you say, "Didn't that launch last week?" Yes, it did but only for people that either a) started waiting in line in October or b) went back in time and preordered it in June of 1865, Foolish person that I was, I only preordered it in June of this year, stupidly thinking that preordering the unit 5 months in advance would guarantee me a copy. Ha! That's funny. Microsoft says that the manufacturing process is very complex and that there are 1700 parts in the 360 so people have to be patient, to which I respond, "I don't fucking care." I don't care if each 360 has a little world inside it filled with gnomes and fairies and wood nymphs that dress up as Germans for me to shoot in Call of Duty 2. You're the ones who decided to launch in November, so fucking launch in November. Don't launch and then not have any units for anyone other than the fervent MSFT heads and Ubergeeks to obtain. You're already missing out on the holiday buying season, so why not launch in December when you have plenty of units made and then at least give people a fighting chance to get the damn thing? Bah! I'm just bitter. I should, should being the operative word, here be getting mine by the end of the week, unless MSFT miscounted and there are actually 1900 pieces inside and their shipping plans didn't account for those extra 200 pieces.

One area of pixelated entertainment I can recommend without hesitation is the joyous online experience provided by Mario Kart DS. If you have a DS and have a wireless router in your house, it is so easy to go online with this game that if you can't, you should be tested to ensure you are not developmentally delayed in some way. This is the nice way of me saying that if you can't go online with your DS, you're fucking retarded. The online experience is pretty damn good, even if it is lacking some of the subtleties of Live, but Nintendo is just getting started in this regard so I can cut them some slack. Plus, this is Mario Kart, so short of them punching me in the eye every time I boot the damn thing up, I'm willing to let a lot go. I have raced a number of times since getting the game and have wracked up an impressive 1 - 23 record. Yes, that's right, one win and 23 losses. If you're searching for a Regional game in the Atlanta area and you see that Brandon has joined the match, you are all but assured victory. This is a similar service to what I provide on Xbox Live as Team Binky, namely, I lose so that you can win. No need to thank me.

From what I've read, there are arcane combinations of button mashing done at opportune times such as when powersliding or right before starting the race that allow your kart to tap into the speed force and go back in time and catch Tachyons or some other Barry Allen type shit. Knowing that these tips are out there helps explain why the only time I see my opponents is when we're all lined up to start the race. I swear it's like one minute we're all waiting for the flag to drop and the next moment they've all finished the next 4 races. Nothing is quite as humiliating as being lapped by a dinosaur driving a polka-dotted egg. One thing that I've noticed about this service is how different it is from Live. On Live, you have names like "Reaper" and "BulletMan" and "Annoying14YearOldWhoNeedsToGetOutMore" but on the Nintendo service, I race against Josh, Todd and JojoPumpkin. If course, when you get fucking owned by JojoPumpkin, it doesn't help your ego any more than getting shot in Halo 2 by BulletMan. The only difference is that I can play another race while Jojo has to go to bed because he may have a pop quiz in spelling tomorrow.

Finally, the good folks at Penny Arcade have fired up the Child's Play machine for this year, so please visit the site, pick a hospital and buy some toys for sick children. Trust me, you'll feel better.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Media Day

What up buttercup?

Not that anyone comes here and reads with any frequency, but for those that do, starting tomorrow I'll be on hiatus as I head back to Russia to claim my rightful heir. We'll be gone a week, provided they decide to waive the 10 day waiting period between the court date and the date of baby retrieval. If they don't waive the waiting period, I'll be on hiatus longer because I'm going to fucking shoot myself. I'll try to take pictures so that I can regale you all with tales of Russian infant purchasing, er adopting.

Before I go, I thought I'd share with you my thoughts on a bunch of fantastical purchases I've made in a quest to go completely bankrupt before the second child arrives. October has been an expensive month for stupid, useless purchases and only serves to get more expensive, stupid and useless. Huzzah! Technically some of these purchases were back in September, but the bill didn't come until October, so they count too. I'll put links where available.

Ringside - "Ringside" - the Amazon review says that this is a serious band despite half of it being actor Balthazar Getty, to which I respond "Who the fuck is Balthazar Getty". Well, it's a good album despite me not knowing who Balthazar Getty is. Not the sort of music for those that want actual humans playing all of the instruments, but if music created on an iBook is your thing, it's a solid album. "Tired of Being Sorry" may have graced your radio at some point.

Citizen Cope - "The Clarence Greenwood Recordings" - Again, referencing Amazon, the review says that those who have both Jack Johnson and Mos Def in their catalog would like this cd. In my case, it's true, however that makes it sound like CC is a mix between Jack Johnson and Mos Def and he isn't, although I'd like to know what hip-hop-surf-folk sounds like. This is an amazing album, and CC lays down some soulful shit. You may have heard "Son's Gonna Rise" as it's on the radio and possibly on a car commercial or something. The album version is superior to the radio cut, as the guitar solo is infinitely more blistering.

Fiona Apple - "Extraordinary Machine" - I had "Tidal", I sold "Tidal". I never bought that Pawn album. This album kicks ass. It's an amazing piece of music and no longer sounds like the journal writings of a tragedy stricken 7th grader. The album took quite a ride before coming out, having been produced by two different people. Two tracks from the first producer remain and act as bookends for the album, which works, because their style is much, much different from the second producer. BTW, the second producer has produced tracks for Eminem, which leads us to the idea of Fiona Apple and Eminem touring, a spectacle of dysfunctional entertainment the world has never seen.

Liz Phair - "Somebody's Miracle" - Liz Phair is one duet with Don Henley away from becoming Sheryl Crow. Not a bad album, but nothing particularly impressive.

Dane Cook - "Harmful if Swallowed" and "Retaliation" - Fuck bees. Fuck bees. Honestly, this guy is hilarious despite his comments about disregarding some of our more important insect friends. If you had to just buy one, get "Harmful", but try to get both. And while we're at it, fuck shoes too.

Gilmore Girls Season 1 and Season 2 - OK, I love Gilmore Girls. It's well written, the characters walk the fine line between too nutty to be believable and extremely genuine and Lauren Graham is hot enough to fry an egg on. Plus I like Luke, so if that makes me even more of a woman then send me a dress and I'll suit up. Both seasons were on sale at Target for 18.88 each one week, so I snagged both of them on the cheap. Cha-ching!

Veronica Mars Season 1 - Picking between this show and Lost for best show on TV last season would have been very, very hard. So far this season, Lost has continued on last season's momentum while VM appears to be taking some time to get back to it's chewy center, but during season 1, VM was amazing television. Very well written, good characters, good mysteries and in the egg frying contest, Kristen Bell would incinerate said eggs before they could even get close to her. Plus, I don't get UPN in Hi-Def, so the choice was between faint memories of shitty broadcast Kristen Bell and Kristen Bell on tasty DVD. A no brainer if ever there was one.

"The Fly - Collectors Edition" - Be afraid. Be very afraid. You're goddamn right. This movie is one of the few remakes I consider to be better than the original. It's short, it gets to the point and it takes no prisoners. The performances are amazing, the effects still hold up and where else can you see such a calamitous relationship between vomit and someone's hand? Don't get "The Fly 2". That movie sucks ass except for the dream sequence, where she births a giant maggot.

Video Games
X-Men Legends 2 - Rise of Apocalypse (Xbox) - Given that there was only a year between this game and its prequel, there wasn't a lot to add other than a boatload of new mutants and co-op over Live. The Live co-op kicks ass as it gives you a chance to make fun of the voicework with something other than the chair next to you. Plus, you can let the AI handle all of your leveling up for those that care more about the action part of an Action-RPG. The only thing that sucks about co-op is that everyone has to have the same tv settings, so if you game with people who don't have an obsessive desire to amass Hi-Def tv equipment, you have to turn off all of your bells and whistles. It sucks to have to do that, trust me, but it's still playable and highly enjoyable. For the record, the team of Iceman, Wolverine, Storm and Cyclops is a quartet of unholy destruction.

Far Cry Instincts (Xbox) - I haven't touched the single player mode, although the demo was good, but multiplayer kicks ass. It's very fast and loose and has a ton of vehicles, which despite the shitty controls, are still fun to ride. The multiplayer modes carry all of the usual multiplayer favorites but add a Predator mode where a bunch of mercenaries face off against one, or multiple jacked up super-soldiers who can jump high, hit hard, track by smell and regenerate health. When you're the predator, you track someone by smell and take on your prey and all of his cronies, it's an amazing feeling to emerge unscathed amongst the corpses. There's also a mapmaking portion which has gotten my gaming group in it's grip and will not let go. We used to talk about games. Now it's like being on a fucking landscaping committee.

Indigo Prophecy - (Xbox) - I've written about this game at length before, but now that I've finished it, I'm comfortable recommending it to anyone who wants something different or likes adventure games. There are some major plot holes which are best to just ignore, but the control is good, the story is cool and it provides an experience that you can't seem to find in other games. Plus, in addition to peeing there's necrophilia.

Trauma Center: Under the Knife (DS) - As much as I love Nintendogs and Advance Wars, this is the game that got me to buy a DS. When I first heard about a surgery game that uses the stylus exclusively, I figured that I'd end up buying the game, and the console to play it on once it came out. It's a lot of fun despite some of the surgeries being part of some plot about medical terrorists and as such, relatively unrealistic. Some of the surgeries are extremely difficult and will have you resisting the urge to let your DS take flight. The dialog can be annoying too, especially the in-surgery dialog which can only be resolved by fervent tapping. It's still tons of fun and the first time you remove a foot long piece of glass from some dude's heart you'll be asking for random strangers to come and mop your brow.

That seems to be it for the time being. Future weeks will bring the release of Batman Begins on DVD, as well as the release of Tales from the Crypt Season 2 on DVD. October may not be the cruelest month, but it's turning out to be the most expensive.

Friday, October 07, 2005

When Giant Reptiles Fight, We all Lose

From the always hilarious Dubious Quality comes this link to a BBC News story about an unfortunate relationship between a 13 ft burmese python and a 6 ft alligator. You know how these things go, python meets alligator, python falls in love with alligator, python eats alligator, alligator explodes out of python's stomach, python dies, alligator dies, the end. I guess this settles the age old question of who would win between a burmese python and an alligator. That would be no one. As disturbing as the picture is, what's even more disturbing is that when the remains were found, the python was headless. That means that there's some critter in the swamps of Flordia snacking on a python head. Maybe it's a zombie python. Brains!

In other news, emboldened by having this outcome of such a magnificent animal battle literally fall into their laps, scientists are now scouring the coasts of Africa in the desperate hope that the remains of a great white shark and an elephant wash ashore. Either that or the battered remains of Batman and Superman.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Atlanta Driver's Handbook

Greetings fair driver! Welcome to Atlanta, the city too busy to follow basic traffic laws. Here in The ATL, we're known for two things, naming everything after peach trees and sitting in traffic so bad you want to find a peach tree and bust your head against it. We didn't get this way by accident, oh no, it takes years of careful civic planning and a complete and total lack of competence on the part of you, the driver, to make this city the congested commuter shithole it is.

This handy guide has been created to help out those new to the area, who may have come from cities that know what a stop sign is. With the tips in this guide, and a liberal amount of head trauma, you too can drive the way Atlanta wants you to. Horribly!

Everywhere the Signs
As you drive around Atlanta, you may notice a lot of streets named after peach trees. With a language spanning some 600,000 words, you'd think we could come up with some more street names. Not so! Besides, what do you have against peach trees anyway? Getting around Atlanta is easy. Imagine a grid where some streets run North to South, some run East to West, some go diagonally, some go in a circle, some make an 'S' shape and some go absolutely nowhere. Now, if the North-South streets are named one thing, then the East-West streets will be named the same thing, but appended with a "SE" or the number 3, or the letter 'Q', or a very small dot of orange paint. Simple! You can also use handy city landmarks to get around. For instance, if you're driving along and you see the sign for The Varsity, you're in downtown Atlanta. Or you're in Alpharetta. Similarly, if you're in Marietta and you see the Big Chicken, then you know you're in Marietta. Piece of cake! If you see homless people then you're in some bizarro alternate universe, as Atlanta has made homelessness illegal. As we all know, the best way to fight poverty is to criminalize it!

Stop Me Before I Stop Again
During your travels around Atlanta you may see strange, red, octagonal signs asking you to stop your vehicle. We all know that when going 65 mph in a residential area, stopping is just a recipe for disaster, or at the least, undue wear on one's seat belts, so feel free to ignore these "Stop" signs. If you feel like you have to slow down, do so, but try not to go under 45. The people behind you have places to go. Similarly, if you're on a highway and a flashing sign is telling you to merge left or right due to a lane closure, what they mean is to continue driving until the lane ends, possibly by slamming you into a piece of heavy machinery, and then swing in to the next lane as quickly as possible. The person you cut off won't mind. And if they do, it's probably their fault anyway. Had they rocketed down the shoulder at 85 mph before merging, everyone else could have all gone a little bit faster. This strategy is also helpful for "Exit Only" lanes. If no one will let you merge, simply stop your vehicle and wait until someone lets you in. Those people behind you will just have to wait. They don't mind. Honest. As for traffic lights, don't worry if the light has turned red and you're still in the intersection, thereby keeping the opposite lanes from getting through. That's what those cameras are for, to capture your wacky hijinks. Oh how we laugh when we see the pictures of the other drivers as they get red faced with rage while all the time you sit there and desperately try to ignore them so you won't have to make eye contact and admit to them that you're a total fucking idiot. Thanks for those fun times! You know who you are.

Can't Stop the Signal
Legends tell of strange devices attached to our cars that, with a flick of one's finger, can indicate to other drivers that you're intending to switch lanes, or turn a corner. Here at the Atlanta Traffic Council, we don't hold much with legends and tall tales. I mean, a flashing light, on a car? That's madness. What would these strange, blinking, flashing, signal devices be called? Flashers? Blinkers? Signals? Flablinknals? The things people come up with. No, fair driver, these items exist only in stories, and it's a good thing too, because how are you expected to drive, hold your cellphone, change the radio station and operate a signalling device? You'd need like 4 arms! As it is, you need 3 just to be able to hold the steering wheel, and you've been doing just fine without doing that, so a fourth arm would be absolutely unnecessary. Plus, think of what would happen to the global sleeve industry if everyone now needed 2 more sleeves on every piece of clothing they own. Demand would outstrip supply and we'd have a garment recession not seen since the Great Zipper Collapse of '08. Just as people don't need to know that your uncle likes to dress in women's clothing, they also don't need to know every time you want to make a turn. Too much information people! Besides, it's a nice surprise, when they expect you to go straight and then you veer off wildly. It's especially surprising if they're trying to make the same turn! Good times. As for lane changes, if you feel the need to tell the other driver that you're planning on occupying the space they're currently occupying, a roll of the eyes, or pointing of the finger will suffice. Honestly, none of this is necessary as physics won't allow both you and the other person to occupy the same space at the same time. Simply get into the other lane and let Classical Mechanics do the rest!

Bumper Cars
On rare occasions, and we mean rare, like it almost never happens, you may find yourself in bumper to bumper traffice on an Atlanta highway. When this happens, it's absolutely imperative that you get as close to the car in front of you as humanly possible. This will ensure that more cars can fit on the roads and that we all get home as quickly as possible. You wouldn't think that 6 inches makes a difference but they all add up to a whole bunch of inches. At least a dozen. We've come up with a handy formula to decide how close you should be to the car in front of you. Simply take the distance from the ground to the top of your front bumper and subtract it from 10. This is how many inches you should be from the car in front of you. SUV owners, this may mean that the front axle of your car is in the back seat of the car in front of you. If so, be sure to buckle your axle in. Safety first Atlanta! Not only will this get us all home faster, but larger cars will be able to shield smaller cars from debris and low swooping pterodactals should a dimensional portal to The Savage Lands be opened and the creatures of prehistoric days thunder across Atlanta's roadways.

Civic Planning
Here at the Atlanta Traffic Council, we too are doing our part to ensure that Atlantans look forward to prostate exams more then their daily commute. That's why we've laid out Atlanta's roads and streets as if the city's infrustructure was planned by drunken howler monkeys. In fact it was. Skippy has been a civil engineer with the City of Atlanta for 20 years now. Say hello Skippy. "*BURP* SCREECH!". Ha! Too true. Anyways, here in Atlanta, we feel that the best way to tangle you up on your drive home is through a cunning combination of single lane roads, left turn only intersections and retail plazas. For example, can you imagine a two lane road with an intersection that leads to a Wal-Mart and behind the Wal-Mart an elementary school? We can, and did! Nothing adds time on to ye olde commute like waiting for buses to take a left in the morning, and shoppers to take a left in the afternoon. Future plans involve putting a landfill behind the elementary school that's behind the Wal-Mart and making it a left turn only intersection so that those that could have taken a right into Wal-Dump Elementary have to go down the road to another left turn only intersection, complete a dangerous and illegal u-turn, and then take a left into good old WDE. That's right Atlanta drivers, we don't expect you to be the only morons in the state. We're dumb two! That is to say, we're dumb to! No wait, ah, forget it.

So there you have it Atlantanoids, all the tips you need to make sure that anyone even attempting to get from one place to another in under an hour have their hopes and dreams smashed like a tail-gating bumper at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. Remember, Atlanta is the only city to have traffic cops at intersections with fully functioning traffic lights. It's your incompetence that makes Atlanta so fun to get around. Happy driving Atlanta! Take it away Skippy!


That guy. He kills me.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

I know that yesterday I said that I was going to post today but instead I've decided to skip out on work and see Serenity. The post, tentatively titled "The Atlanta Driver's Handbook" will have to wait. Sorry about that.

I can report that I've done more extensive research into what is and isn't stressful in Indigo Prophecy and have some results to report. In an early part of the game, Lucas, the killer, takes a leak in his apartment. This destresses him. I then had Lucas pick up a picture of his dead parents and immediately got him all stressed out again. Later in the evening, Lucas returned to his apartment, stressed to the gills. Peeing did nothing to reduce his stress but picking up the picture only moved him further to the edge of despair. So, from this we learn that while peeing is only relaxing part of the time, having dead parents is a permanent bummer. Here's a handy breakdown of what is stressful and what isn't, for cops and killers alike:

Not stressful:
Drinking water
Drinking coffee
Drinking alcohol (makes one wobbly though)
Playing guitar
Beating up on a heavy bag
Saving drowning children

Picking up pictures of dead family members
Getting your amorous advances rebuffed by your ex-girlfriend
Not correctly deducing the cause of the coroner's findings
Not getting to have sex with your girlfriend before going to work
Murdering someone in a bathroom

As you can see, the full gamut of the human experience is represented out here. So remember folks, peeing = good, sometimes and murdering = bad all of the time.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bits and Pieces

I'm trying to post on a weekly schedule, honest I am. Sometimes things get in the way, like my staggering laziness. Fear not, for soon I shall be back on schedule. I have a number of hi-larious posts coming. At the very least, they sure sound funny in my head. Hee-hee-hee. There goes one now.

For now, I'll play some catch-up and leave the science dropping for tomorrow.

I was in beautiful Fort Worth, TX at the beginning of this week and all I can say is damn, that place is fucking hot. Supposedly it was "abnormally" hot, which at 100 degrees, probably goes without saying, but I have my suspicions that "normal" is probably in the 90's. I was told today that it rained after I left and now the lows are in the 60's, which proves what I've thought all along, that Texas hates me. The Sundance Square area of downtown is nice, and very easy to find your way around. I wasn't there long enough to explore the city in depth, so I'll hold off on recommending it as the vacation wonderland you've all hoped and dreamed for. I will say that the panhandlers there are some of the nicest pandhandlers who have ever asked me for money. Very polite, for whatever that's worth.

While I was gone, I wasn't playing any video games which is a shame because every developer known to man has decided to put out a game in the past 2 weeks. I bought Burnout Revenge because I wanted to crash cars and not go to jail for it. 2 days later, X-Men Legends 2 came out, so I bought that because I wanted to beat up mutants and not go to jail for it. 2 days later I bought Indigo Prophecy because I wanted to have my body taken over by an unseen force, stab some guy to death in a diner bathroom and then investigate the murder as a different character and not go to jail for it. Or something. Now, Far Cry Instincts has come out, and I'd like to play folks in it online, something that has to be done the first week a game comes out before The Collective moves on to their next greatest game. At this point, I've given up all hope of buying a 360 at launch as there's no way I'll be done with all of these games in 2 months. Plus, it seems silly to rush through games I'm enjoying so that I can trade them in for a console that could very well follow every other launch in console history and launch with absolute shit for games.

While we're on the subject of games, the aforementioned Indigo Prophecy is a strange animal, a strange animal indeed. It's like an adventure game, but without all the pointing and clicking. I mentioned the plot before, so I won't go into it again, and can't really as I've only played for a couple of hours, but I will say that whatever malevolent force possessed your character has also taken up residence in the games camera system. I can understand that this game, in trying to be like a movie, relies on multiple camera angles, however when I'm trying to actually do something, and there's a time limit, changing up the camera angles all willy-nilly is really fucking annoying. It's bad enough that I killed some guy, but when I'm trying to hide all the bloody evidence from the waiting police office as I run around my apartment in my underwear, the least you can do is not keep switching the camera up on me.

Other than that, the game is pretty cool, and it gives you a glimpse into how the European game development community views those of us in the states. For example, in New York City, African-American men all walk around to soulful jazz-funk riffs. I bet you didn't know that. This was a part of the black experience I had never heard of. I have also learned that peeing is considered very relaxing by our game development friends across the Atlantic. The players in the game have emotional stability meters that start out at Neutral and go down to Suicidal (happiness is not an option in Indigo Prophecy) and various things in the game will raise or lower this meter. Taking a piss raises this meter for the men in the game by a hefty 5 points. Drinking water and/or coffee also raises this meter, thereby raising the possibility of achieiving total emotional neutrality by drinking and peeing all the live long day. For the record, if you are in the men's restroom with your female partner and you pee, while it may be relaxing for you, it is 5 points more stressful for her. As if your pee carried stress from your body into hers. Ew. Similarly, if you decide to get unstressed by a whopping 20 points by engaging in a little pre-work nookie with your girlfriend, your partner can cock block you by calling you up and demanding your lazy ass get to work pronto. No destressing for you romeo. Now that I think of it, the African-American community isn't presented in a very flattering light in this game. Either they're peeing in crime scenes in front of their female partners, or they're late for work because they're sexing up their ladies. Then, once they get to work they dodge the co-worker they owe money to, offering to repay it only if they can be beaten at basketball. I guess cotton picking didn't make sense in the context of modern day NYC. Well, at least he's got that groovy soundtrack to walk around to. Later in the game I hope to play as Kim Suk, the resident math genius/grocer.

Burnout Revenge is an interesting game in that it made the racing more fun and the crash mode less fun, which comes out as a zero sum gain for fun-ness. X-Men Legends 2 is pretty much the same game as the original X-Men Legends, but now you can play as evil mutants. Seeing how the game doesn't provide branching paths, one where you rescue nuns and the other where you barbecue kittens, the fact that you can play as evil mutants doesn't really make a difference in the gameplay experience. Lou Diamond Philips resumes his role as Forge. If you listen closely, after his lines you can hear him mutter "I was in Young Guns!"

Finally, I was watching the news this morning as I usually do and they had a story about how gas prices are rising. The news reporter tried to use a tape measure to demonstrate the rising prices, as if the viewing audience wouldn't know on their own that 2.99 is bigger than say, 2.69. Had it snowed right then and there, allowing the reporter to use his tape measure to report on rising gas prices and the amount of snowfall, I think he would have died from sheer ecstasy. They then interviewed people at the pumps to hear their angry tirades. One guy said that it was ruining his business because he did construction and he had to keep driving from jobs to Home Depot. I can sympathize with that guy. He's probably on his own, trying to earn an honest living and can't afford to underbid jobs so anything that eats into his operating costs eats in to his profits by extension. Then they showed this lady, and her exact words were "I buy premium, and I'm very angry". OK, well, if your car doesn't need premium, then, oh, I don't know, fucking stop buying premium. If your car needs premium, then sell it and get one that doesn't require premium. I drive a Maxima, and while I'm not rolling in a Benz-o, it's a pretty nice car and that premium shit don't get within 5 feet of my ride. It's all regular all the time. And, what the fuck are you getting angry about? Try being angry about something you can actually change. Unless your righteous fury is going to reorganize OPEC and make us less dependent on foreign oil, all in one fell swoop, I'd say to shut the fuck up, buy your gas and be on your merry way. What I would have liked to see is the construction guy overhear her complaining and brain her with a ladder. Then the reporter could get involved and try to pry them apart with his tape measure. Then a black guy could walk in front of them, bass track grooving around him and take a nice, relaxing piss. Shit, I'd pay to see that.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Meet the Parents

Dear Abby,

OK, already I'm thinking we need to rethink this whole name thing. After all, I don't want to feel like I'm writing to an advice column every time I want to talk to you. Either that or I'll have to rethink my salutation. "Greetings dearest Abby" or perhaps "Salutations fair daughter". Whatever. We'll deal with that once you can actually read.

So, how's Russia? How's the hospital? Have they let you see sunlight yet? No? Huh. Well, I'm sure they will soon, and if not, we'll be coming to get you soon and here in America, we have tons of sunlight. Well, no more than any other longitudinally similar place on the Earth, but our sunlight now has extra Calcium! OK, that's a lie too. Do you still have your dolly? When you come home, you'll have a bunch more, including your great grandmother, as her name is also Dolly. We'd appreciate it if you didn't try and stick her in your mouth, but then again, she may not notice. She's getting up there in years. We still have your chickens and will bring them with us when we come to bring you home. I know it probably seemed mean to bring you this bounty of playful farm animals only to cruelly remove them from your grasp. This was the first in many decisions where we have to keep the big picture in mind, at the expense of whatever it is you actually want. Had we left the chickens with you, most likely they'd end up with some other kid, and we can't have that. Screw those other underpriviliged children! Kidding. No, we want to make sure you had them for the long trip home, which is why we took them. Plus, and please don't be offended by this, they really stank after spending multiple hours in your mouth, so they needed a bath.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce you to the rest of the family and let you get to know your mother and brother and I a little better. I know that it's confusing getting thrown into this new family and can be quite disorienting, but keep in mind that we're good people and we love you very much already. On with the introductions.

Real name: Linda
Age: 32
Occupation: Technical Writer
Likes: her family, Tom Welling, Pizza flavored Combos
Dislikes: Whining, cooked tomatoes, the fact that she isn't retired

Your mother is a fantastic person. I've known her for 14 years now and she never ceases to amaze me. She's a lot of fun to be with, is very accomodating, but isn't afraid to bring the hammer down when needed. She's the more nuturing of the two of us, being more apt to give you a hug when some imagined slight has been brought against your person, and then tell you to get over it, whereas I just tell you to rub some dirt on it and carry on. She's also the one who will sing happy birthday with you over and over and over and over while on a walk. I don't do public singing. Her areas of expertise around the house include laundry, washing dishes, vacuuming, dusting, picking out furniture and managing your daily experience be it in regards to needed immunizations or keeping track of Yellow Shirt Day and Bring A Dead Fish to School Day at daycare. She is also way hot, something which I'm sure grosses you out despite you not knowing what that means.

Real Name: Brandon
Age: 33
Occupation: Quality Assurance Engineer
Likes: Video games, comic book characters, tattoos, tattos of comic book characters, comic book video games, meat
Dislikes: Whining (sense a trend here?), the state of the country, fish

I can't say whether or not I'm fantastic, because that would be somewhat conceited. Well, that and I think I'm pretty normal. I didn't do so well adjusting to the whole kid thing when we brought your brother home, but I'm much better now. I tend to be the sterner one between your mother and I, but am learning to lighten up. At the same time, when your brother comes in crying because the floor assaulted him, I'm usually not going to be all that sympathetic. The floor has been nothing nice to me since I've known it. I'm responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning the basement, mowing the lawn, cooking, menu planning, paying the bills, research on home electronic purchases and your general sports/music/movie education. This last part is particularly important as your mother would have you believe that Pearl Jam is not the greatest band in rock today, which makes her a dirty liar. I think you'll see that we've divided up our responsibilities pretty well and you would do well to not ask us to mix skill sets. Just as you would not want to ask your mother to make you anything more complex than a sandwich, you're not going to want to accept my assurances that you are, in fact, protected from Polio.

The most important thing I can tell you about your mother and me, is that we love each other very, very much. We are the best of friends, and have been for a very long time now. You might think we like each other more than we like you and your brother. Let's just say that it's a different kind of like and leave it at that so as to not cause any bad feelings. I will say that come time for college, I'll be glad to have the two of you out of the house, while I'll want her still with me. After all, these pants won't clean themselves. Kidding!

Real Name: Ben
Age: 2, soon to be 3
Occupation: toddler
Likes: Music, yogurt, getting his way, ordering people around
Dislikes: varies depending on the time of day, not getting his way, the dogs coming remotely close to anything he has even a passing interest in

Your brother is a very good kid. He is also adopted from Russia, so when you're teens and need something other than a hatred of your mother and me to bond over, you can bond over your common heritage. We brought Ben home when he was 7 months old and although he was much bigger for his age than you are for your's, once he got home, he really took off. He is a good natured, even tempered kid who rarely gives us any troubles outside of the usual toddler activities. I can't say this behavior will continue once we bring you home as he's quite happy being the center of attention, so don't take it personally if he seems to hate you. It's all temporary. He enjoys talking about pretty much everything, so while I'm sure you'll be able to pick up English from him, good luck actually using it. He already knows who you are, and appears to be excited about you coming home, but he also thinks that the coasters make a sandwich, so it's hard to tell.

Along with the three of us, you have two dogs that will probably annoy you as they annoy your brother. For the most part they're OK, but once they're gone, don't even bother asking for another one cause it ain't gonna happen. You also have a bunch of grandparents and an aunt and uncle or two. Our's is not a big family, and you and your brother are pretty much it for young kids, so while there won't be any other kids to play with at family gatherings, there also isn't anyone else to dilute the very important grandparental gift giving fundage. Welcome to America, where the dollar is king.

Hopefully this gives you some idea as to the family you're coming home to. I think we're a good one, and I would say that the other folks in here with me would agree. I know that we all love you already and we can't wait to have you home.

See you soon.


PS - Just because I like video games, it doesn't mean you get to play them, so don't get any bright ideas.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

When the Levee Breaks

Usually I don't do this, and by this I mean post about politics. First of all, I don't really think it's my strong suit as I don't have the time to find out more than what the news is telling me, to the point where I feel I can speak intelligently. Also, I figure there are a hell of a lot more people out there who can post about these kinds of things better than I can, so why not leave it to them and instead post about what I want to post about? Unfortunately, for all of us, I need to make a change to that policy, for this post anyways. I have been thinking about this post all week, and I don't think I'll be able to move past it and write about other things until I get it out there and be done with it. For those of you who don't care to read about hurricanes and inept public officials, come back tomorrow and read about my soon to be adopted daughter. She's a cutie. Still here? OK. Well, you asked for it.

What the fuck? I mean seriously? What? The? Fuck? At what point did we stop being the biggest superpower in our little corner of the universe and become, what appears to be, a 3rd rate government run by stumbling retards? Every day I read new details about Katrina and her aftermath, and every day I get angrier and angrier and angrier. Every aspect of this horrible tragedy has been so unequivocally fucked up by our fearless leader and his band of fuckwit cronies that it defies logic that this person is in charge of our country. I mean, it's not like we didn't have some idea before of how bad things were, but this is the icing on the cake. A cake made from toxic flood waters with a creamy filling of ineptitude and iced with drowned body frosting.

You would think, that when something of this magnitude happens, we'd want to step back and figure out what went wrong. Well, you'd be wrong. Sort of. The administration doesn't want to play "the blame game". They don't want to be "blame-gaming" at this point, unless, of course, the blame is pointed at state and/or local officials. A "senior Bush official" told both the Washington Post and Newsweek that the Lieutenant Governor of Lousiana didn't ask for state of emergency status until September 3rd, and had she done earlier, the federal response would have been quicker. Problem was, she asked for it on the 26th of fucking August, something recorded on the state of Louisiana's own fucking website. Louisiana's seal is Pelicans. How cool is that? Anyways, yes, we wouldn't want to lay blame on, oh, I don't know, FEMA, for waiting until after the storm had hit to propose, not send, propose to send 1000 workers into the area. And we certainly wouldn't want to take issue with the fact that said workers should "convey a positive image" about the government's response. You know what would convey a positive image? Actually fucking rescuing someone.

While we're on the subject of rescuing folks, how is it possible that Harry Connick Jr, Sean Penn, and like, every reporter ever born is able to make it into New Orleans, but the massive might of America's military can't? I have seen Harry Connick Jr. in concert and spoken, ever so briefly, to him after the show. He is many things, tall, good looking, a gifted piano player, charming performer. One thing he isn't, is Paul Fucking Bunyan. When one tries to imagine who they would want orchestrating their dramatic, wilderness rescue, Harry Connick Jr. does not come to mind. Perhaps, now he should. Ditto for Sean Penn. Were I stranded on a boat somewhere, needing a rescue at sea, I would not expect Jeff Spicoli to come to my rescue. And for all of those right wing assholes mocking Mr. Penn and saying that it was only for a photo op that he rescued those people, who the fuck cares? He could have a camera strapped for his forehead for all I care, at least he was rescuing people, which is more than I can say for your sorry ass. They had an article in the AJC about a guy who managed to orchestrate the rescue of his son, and dozens of his son's college classmates, who had been stranded in their dorm, using only a phone and the power of his mind. So he can make some calls and get all of these people brought safely to dry land, but FEMA can't figure out how to find their ass with a map and a flashlight.

But no, we don't want to play the "blame game". We don't want to be blame-gamers all blame-gaming and game-blaming and some such. Hell no! Freedom is on the march! Mission accomplished! Trent Lott may have lost his house, but don't worry, he'll build a better one! One thing, here. Is it not too much to ask that the spokesperson for the leader of the free world have a sufficient enough grasp of the English language that he doesn't have to make up words like "blame-gaming". I mean, there has to be what, two, maybe three hojillion words, at least, in the English language. Wouldn't one of them worked better than "blame-gaming".

No, we certainly wouldn't want to be blame-gaming, unless we're talking about the poor. Oh yes, those dirty, dirty, poverty stricken assholes who didn't have the common decency to get up on out of there and not die and then float down the street. Those selfish, selfish bastards. One theory is that the poor didn't leave was because they didn't want to lose out on their upcoming welfare checks. Well, I guess that's one way to put it. The other way would be that when you live check to check, the end of the month usually means that you don't have any money, so that upcoming check is the only thing that will allow you to leave in the first place. And we all know how big those welfare checks are, and that had they only arrived a day or so earlier, the poor would have climbed aboard their gilded yachts and sailed off into the sunset, champagne bottles popping in the pre-hurricane glow. Cause when I think of a group of people that has the means to evacuate at a moment's notice, I think "poor". Honestly, what kind of sick fuck can look at the utter devastation brought on these people and think, for one second, that they, in any way, deserve it simply because they don't have a lot of money? How is it possible for that person to not just drop dead on the spot because they're so fucking evil?

But it's OK. I understand. Those poor, they're just so poor, and so black and so underpriviliged that you can't feel anything but anger towards them. I mean, here you are, an average guy who wants nothing more than to drive around in his fancy imported sedan, drink 4 dollar Frappucinos and maybe give the wife a poke inbetween bringing the kids to ballet class and riding lessons. The last thing you want is some dirty poor person reminding you that your country, and possibly you by extension, isn't doing nearly enough to help those that can't help themselves. That your country left them to die in the streets or in the Superdome, or on their rooftops. Who needs that kind of a downer? It's football season!

But don't you worry, because our government is on the job! Bush is going to find out what went wrong "over time". Yay! Saints be praised! That's a relief. Let's hope that "over time" means in the next few days, because last time I checked, we're only 7 days into what is traditionally the worst month in hurricane season, a season that lasts until late November. Plus, it's not like every crack-pot fucking terrorist in the world just saw how monumentally unprepared we are, and is now thinking that maybe a WMD isn't such a bad idea right about now. Don't worry Mr. President, I'm sure the hurricanes and the terrorists will wait for you to figure out what went wrong.

Speaking of crackpots, what do antiabortion radicals and al Qaeda have in common? They both feel that Katrina was the wrath of God! Charming! You know kids, terrorism starts at home. I don't know about you, but if I were a moderate Republican, you know, an old school fiscal conservative kind of guy, uncomfortable with the way my party has been hijacked by the religious right, this comparison would make me shit my shortbread.

But again don't worry, our government is on the job, firefighters have been deployed and are patiently waiting in airports and posing for photos with the President. We can't spare people to rescue folks, not when there are valuable leaflets to be handed out. Besides, according to the Senate, things are going "remarkably well". Whew! That's a relief. Here I thought things had already gone to shit, been eaten by something that likes to eat shit, and then shat out again. And don't you worry, because even though 10 billion has been appropriated for aid, Senator Burns of Montana is on the case. According to him, the Senate is going to "ask for a little more accountability for how that money is being spent and where it is going." Again, whew! That's a relief. Hey, Senator, any chance we could ask for some accountability for the $28 million in "disaster relief" appropriated to Miami-Dade County for Hurricane Francis, when Francis came ashore 120 miles north of Miami-Dade County? Senator? Hello? Well, I'm sure he's busy. Just so we're clear, accountability for dollars? Yes. Accountability for deaths? No.

I've been watching everything that has gone down since Katrina, the good and the bad, and I can honestly say that this is the first time I've come away from this kind of disaster feeling worse about humanity. I know that there are good people out there doing good things, like donating cash, making t-shirts, and creating websites to hook families up with housing, but overall, the way that our leaders have responded to this, make me feel like we're all miserable fucking human beings. Usually I see the good that people do and it makes me feel better about humanity, but not this time. This time all I see is greed and a base defilement of the human spirit.

I am, by nature, a musical person, in that I can usually find a line from a song to help me connect with how I'm feeling. This time I've got two for you, from Led Zeppelin and Better than Ezra. I think they sum up things nicely:

All last night sat on the levee and moaned,
Thinkin’ ’bout me baby and my happy home.
- Led Zeppelin

All my rage
Sits inside
When even the finest things
Are leaving you hollow
- Better Than Ezra

Moaning and hollow. What a horrible way to be.

Friday, August 26, 2005


I probably shouldn't post this, because it just gives Sony more attention, but someone needs to shove some reality up Phil Harrison's ass.

Yes, the touchscreen aspect of the DS maybe somewhat gimmicky, but it's a gimmick that lets you play games! The PSP currently has all of this extraneous bullshit like web browsers and mp3 players. and no games to speak of. The Pokemon comment really pissed me off, only because here's a guy sitting on a handheld that is seen, almost universally, as a $250 paperweight, and what does he spend his time doing, but insulting fans of the other handheld, fans that might use the PSP if only good games were available. I mean come on. Someone should tell this guy to shut the fuck up and concentrate on making some games for the PSP. I have had more fun with Advance Wars and Nintendogs in three days than I have with my PSP since March. Comments like this will make me sell the damn thing so that I don't have to worry about giving Sony my money through game royalties.

And you can take your PS3 and go fuck yourself.

Bat Man

We have bats. Well, we had bats, prior to today, and hopefully they won't be coming back. Don't get me wrong, I love bats. I think they're cute, they keep hours that prevent us from coming into contact with each other, and they eat mosquitos. They also then poop out those mosquitos all over my driveway, complete with spores that cause histoplasmosis which will kill you dead. Honestly, I don't know how Batman does it. He must have some serious air filtration going on in that place.

We first noticed we had Bats when mounds of what appeared to be shit showed up, magically, on the driveway. The sad part, is that this went on for weeks, before we thought anything was wrong, as if shit magically materializes at our house all the time. "Hey honey, there's some more shit in the kitchen." It wasn't until Linda saw a "bird" fly into the garage and I found a bat hanging on some old gutter guards in the garage that we put 2 and 2 together. I went up into the attic above the garage and there were roughly 50 million bats in there, snoozing away quietly.

We had a wildlife control person out to the house and he found, along with the bats, a snake skeleton, a rat skeleton, two dead flying squirrels and a very alive grey squirrel, the latter two species in the attic above our bedroom. This confirmed my wife's suspicions as she had heard something running around up there at night as if it were Critter Valley Speedway. When it rains, the squirrels prefer to nest in the dry comfort of our attic and, while they're there, eat wiring. If they just wanted to hang out, I'd be OK but once they start fucking with my wires and potentially burning my house down, I have to draw the line.

It would appear that we have a construction gap at the roofline of a couple of inches so that the critters can get in unfettered. I would think that I'd notice such a gap, as that would be kind of drafty, however it's one of those newfangled gaps that allows in vermin but not energy stealing drafts.

For the bats, he installed something called a check valve which appears to be a garbage bag stapled to the front of my house. This makes it so that the bats can fly out but not fly back in. I thought that this was kind of mean, as I can only imagine the bat's confusion upon coming home fat and tired from a long night of insect eating, only to find that they can't get into their house. The bats, crafty buggers that they are, were one step ahead of us and moved to the other vent, the one with the attic fan in it. Perhaps crafty is the wrong adjective. Linda suggested that they moved because they were getting tired of being woken up in the middle of the day by the garage door opener. To me, having one's sleep disturbed seems preferable to getting chopped into little bits every time the temperature goes above 90, but hey, whatever works.

For the attic, they've put down cage traps in the hopes that they'll catch whatever is roaming around the attic, release it, and then install aluminum flashing to seal the construction gap. Now, instead of having animals race back and forth all night, we'll be subjected to them throwing themselves against the bars of their steely prisons. This would be the part where the trip to Russia becomes preferable to staying at home. It's a good thing that the bats have left, because if they thought the garage door opener was bad, having a grey squirrl hitting his little cup against the cage bars and screaming "Attica!" is likely to drive them to fly into the lawn mower.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Nintendogs has been released and I'm about as smitten with my puppy as any rational 33 year old man would be. I bought the Daschaund version as I wanted access to the pug puppies. I've always liked Pugs, however the respiration problems and eye gunkys that come with having a face that looked like it's been hit with a shovel always turned me off. That and I already have two dogs and are loathe to add another real dog to the mix.

Like most real dogs, Puggsly is perfectly obedient and happy to do tricks when it's just the two of us but as soon as someone else wants to see her shake or sit or lie down she's too busy prancing around the room ignoring me. Women. I've attempted to teach her more tricks, but these have some more complexity and as such, are harder for her to grasp. Not that I blame her, I can't sneeze on command either. FYI, to make your puppy sneeze, simply poke them in the nose. Do not attempt this with a real dog. Trust me. I've considered seeing if I could teach her how to blink, but I don't want to accidentally put her eye out.

In our short time together, we've gone for a number of walks, she's eaten and drank a ton, played a little, met some other dogs, eaten some potato skins she found in the garbage, and placed second in an agility trial. This last point is especially surprising, as not 5 minutes before, during our first trip to the agility practice grounds, I got her stuck in a tunnel. Nothing quite like your having your dog stuck in a tunnel, plaintively whimpering while you hurridly scratch and tap the touchscreen, all the time being watched by everyone else in the baggage claim area. Oh yeah, I'm sane.

If I can figure out how to get a good picture of her, complete with her adorable red and white ear bows, I'll post it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Back to the USSR

It's finally happened.

We have our referral.

After what has seemed like an eternity, closer to 15 months if you want to be specific, we have information on our soon-to-be-adopted daughter.

Name: Ekaterina
DOB: 10/04
Parent's health: good
Distinguishing features: very, very blond hair

That's about all we know at the moment. We leave for Russia next Saturday for the first trip. Right now we don't have a picture, which is a bummer, but it also makes it even more exciting as we'll truly be seeing her for the first time when we visit the orphanage. We had asked, if it was possible, to adopt a child from the same orphange that our son was from, but no dice. If this orphanage was anything like Ben's orphanage, they'll have taken amazing care of her thus far, as much as their meager resources will allow.

I'm still somewhat overwhelmed at the prospect of having two kids, as I still don't feel like I have a handle on being a parent of one child. My only consolation as I know that the overwhelmedness of the prospect of having 2 kids is nothing compared to how overwhelmed I'll be once I actually have two kids. Regardless of how I feel, the gears are moving, so I best get over whatever problems I have in the next 8 weeks or so. I am looking forward to the flights to and from Russia for this first trip. 14 hours straight of Advance Wars and Nintendogs. How cool is that!

Xbox 360

Microsoft released the pricing information for the Xbox 360 this week and many, many wallets will be much, much lighter come this November. The 360 will come in two flavors, the "Core System" for $299 that comes out of the box ready to play a game, and that's about it, and the regular old Xbox 360 for $399 that will let you connect to Live, play old Xbox games and see the HD shenanigans. Personally, I think the pricing strategy is somewhat shitty as all along they've been saying that hard drives and wireless controllers would be the rule of the day for all systems, but most likely that meant too much of a loss on each unit. Whatever. When you look at the combined price of the accessories you get with the 360, $100 is a steal over upgrading the Core System, a $210 dollar endeavor. Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll release this so that we can take advantage of Black Friday sales for accessories on the cheap, but I doubt that any retailers will give up the goods that easily. Just having the 360 in the stores will be enough to get people in there.

For me, the biggest issue becomes backwards compatibility. If the 360 has an impressive list of backward compatible games, then I'll buy one when it comes out and just put off purchasing any 360 games while I finish up whatever Xbox games are still lying around. If the backward compatibilty list is piss-poor, I'll have to evaluate my launch purchase decision. 400 bucks is a lot to spend and only get some puzzle game I've never heard of.

Decisions, decision.


I am a weak, weak man and on Saturday my weakness manifested itself in a shiny, new, silver Nintendo DS. When the DS first came out, I thought that the launch games were pretty crappy and didn't necessarily put the touch screen to good use. Like with most new consoles, it takes a few months for developers to hit their stride and start putting out good games that make the best use of the console's features. That is certainly the case now with the DS. I picked up Meteos which can be controlled without the stylus, but why would you want to, and Kirby: Canvas Curse which uses the stylus as it's only mean of control. Both games are mucho fun-o, but more on that later. Seeing how I now have the latest 2 handhelds, I shall compare them for you, my little console snuggle bunnies.

They're both pretty much the same size, which means you need cargo pants to carry them around in, or those crazy-big hip-hop jeans that all the kids seem to like. They are handheld in that they can be held in your hands, but so can a watermelon and I wouldn't want to carry that damn thing around all day. Having some sort of case is essential for both, if only to carry the unit and the games. For the PSP it's a goddamn imperative because that screen attracts scratches like monkeys attract things that like monkeys.

The DS has two screens, one of which you can touch and do things with. The PSP has one really big screen. I'd say the edge goes to the PSP as it's screen is a marvel to behold. It's big, bright and clear. The DS's screens are also clear and bright, but not as big or as impressive as the PSP's screen. I've also noticed that the DS's screen is a little harder to see in direct light than it's predecessor, the GBA SP. Maybe I'm just getting older. As mentioned above, you absolutely need a screen protector for the PSP, whereas the DS's clamshell design does a good job of protecting it's screenies. I'd give the credit for the DS having a touchscreen, but that is the fundamental purpose of this unit, so I can't see giving it credit for validating it's own existance. No one gives my pants a parade because they cover my legs, as without this leg covering they'd have a shallow and unfulfilled existence. Panhandling may come into play.

They both have speakers. Sound comes out of it. I usually play my handhelds either at home while watching TV with the missus, at work in the breakroom, or when waiting in line or in a waiting room. In all situations, having my handheld's speakers blasting at full volume would result in me having something large and unfriendly shoved into one of a myriad of orafices. Maybe myriad is the wrong word there. I don't want you to think I have more orafices than the next guy. I have the regulation number of orafices to function as a human being. Good thing we cleared that up.

The PSP has the little analog joystick, which I've found to be completely useless for anything other than menu selection. The face buttons, d-pad and triggers seem to all work well and fit the hands nicely. Ditto for the DS. Where the DS really takes the cake in this category is with the touch screen. Using the stylus to play games is both fun and intuitive. When I first played with the DS, it was a demo unit and I attempted to play Metroid Prime: Hunters, a first person shooter, with the stylus. This was such an awful experience that I wrote the unit off completely. Had I originally played it with the little thumb nubbin, or the thumbanubbynubbin as I like to call it, that comes attached to the wrist strap, I would have been unable to resist its wily charms. Controlling Metroid in this fashion works like a charm and is wicked fun to boot. For Meteos and Kirby, I use the stylus and the fun derived from these games is similarly wicked. Maybe it's just the newness of it all, but I don't think so. I think it's the simplicity of it all.

This is where the theoretical rubber hits the road. As I've lamented before, the PSP has shit for games right now. The DS, while not a powerhouse in that regard, does have a nice staple of games that are fun and play up the uniqueness of the unit. They also have Advance Wars Dual Strike and Nintendogs coming out next week which should launch my playtime into the stratosphere. For my PSP I currently have Lumines and Hot Shots Open Tee. Lumines is lots of fun to play and has a very slick presentation, however when you've plateued out like I have, it becomes a chore to unlock new skins as you have to battle your way to a new high score. Meteos, on the other hand, allows you to unlock new items based on the number of meteos you've launched during the game. Trust me, it makes sense if you've played it. Bottom line is that you don't have to achieve some crazy new high score just to get new things. You can just play your merry little heart out, selecting whatever stages that allow you to stock up on whatever meteos you're lacking. The game is very simple, can get very fast paced and has completly consumed my soul. When I close my eyes, I see meteos dropping from the sky, fusing and launching skyward. If I play for a while, and then look at Linda, I imagine her eyes are meteos that drop down her face, fuse with her mouth and then launch out the top of her head. I think I need help. Kirby is fun however it hasn't gripped me like Meteos has. It's a nice change though and I expect to play it equally as time goes on. On the PSP side, we've covered Lumines and while Hot Shots is a good golf game, it is golf, a genre I've played on pretty much every purveyor of digital entertainment I've ever let into my home. It's like getting excited over bread. It may have cool seeds or swirls of some sort, but in the end, it's still just bread.

The DS is $150, soon to be $130. Games cost about 30 - 35 bucks. The PSP is $250 with games costing from $30 - $50 with most at $40. Now that I've had a few months to step back and evaluate the PSP, I'd say you'd be a frikkin moron to pay that price now. The lack of games can't justify the price, unless you're buying it to watch movies, listen to music, etc and the games are secondary. If that's the case, please see my original comment as there are devices that play movies and music much more easily than the PSP. In a few months when the holiday titles drop, there may be justification for the price, but not at the moment.

The DS has a clock, Pictochat and can act as an alarm clock. The PSP has a web browser, can view pictures, can play movies and play music. Not much of a contest there in terms of extras. Personally, the extras on both are useless to me, so when you consider that the PSP's extras only inflates the price, I'd say the DS wins on this one. I don't want to play movies, music or browse the web with my handheld. I want to play games while I wait to get my blood drawn for a cholesterol test. That's just me though, and I know plenty of people that are content to use their PSP as a multimedia powerhouse as they wait for good games to come out. Yay for them, I say.

Bottom Line
Right now the DS is more fun to me, and with the games coming down the pike, I don't see that changing. Even with PSP games, the DS is a more fun experience. PSP games are very technically impressive but they have a slick, cold feel to them. I can see someone pulling out the PSP to impress people who are unfamiliar with what handhelds can do these days, but pulls out the DS when they want to have fun. This is probably the Nintendo fan in me speaking though. Nintendo, for all they do wrong, absolutely nails the fun factor of games and always has. Having a Nintendo handheld back in the house makes me a happy camper and makes my gaming experience complete. Once Virtua Tennis World Tour comes out for the PSP, my tune may change, but for now, I'm a DS man. Touching is good indeed.