Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Teh Tagteam

I have been tagged by Monique and while I usually don't engage in such shenanigans, I'm feeling lazy today. I've also been indirectly tagged by Bones, so I'll answer his questions too. Bonus!

First, Monique's...

Three Things That Scare Me
1. Financial ruin
2. Spelunking (thanks to The Descent)
3. My kids growing up to be assholes

Three People Who Make Me Laugh
1. My wife
2. Brian Regan
3. Jim Gaffigan

Three Things I Love
1. My family, but more so, my wife
2. Good barbecue
3. Zelda games

Three Things I Hate
1. Bananas
2. Homophobia
3. Ska music

Three Things I Don't Understand
1. Chemistry. Seriously, I don't understand a goddamn word of it. Covalent bonds my ass!
2. The appeal of baseball. Barry Bonds my ass!
3. Why two loving people who want to be in a committed relationship can tear down the sanctity of marriage simply because they're the same gender but Britney Spears getting married like 19 times does not. Um, my ass!

Three Things On My Desk
1. Pictures of my family
2. Transformers. Lots and lots of Transformers.
3. A Get Fuzzy page a day calendar. Oh that Bucky Katt.

Three Things I'm Doing Right Now
1. Not working.
2. Waiting to go to lunch with Linda.
3. Desperately hoping that Blackout and Ratchet will be at Target.

Three Things I Want To Do Before I Die
1. Skydive
2. Go to Hawaii.
3. See Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert. Not just Bruce, they all have to be there.

Three Things I Can Do
1. Write horribly long run-on sentences.
2. Bore my wife by speaking at length about Transformers.
3. Cook

Three Things I Can't Do
1. The "live long and prosper" Vulcan hand thingy.
2. Cartwheels
3. Eat fish.

Three Things I Think You Should Listen To
1. Super 400
2. Silversun Pickups
3. Me. I am a font of amazing advice and knowledge. Stop slouching!

Three Things You Should Never Listen To
1. People who tell you that you're going to fail simply because they have.
2. The entire George W. Bush administration.
3. Me. Seriously, I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground.

Three Things I'd Like To Learn
1. To speak fluent Spanish.
2. To make an omelet like Stanley Tucci does at the end of "Big Night".
3. How to be so thin, yet live so fat.

Three Favorite Foods
1. Pork (includes ribs, sausage, pulled pork, you get the idea)
2. Egg noodles with butter and breadcrumbs
3. Apple fritters from the country store near where Linda's parents live.

Three Shows I Watched As A Kid
1. Transformers
2. Bionic Six
3. G. I. Joe

Now for Bones's, which is 8 random fact/habits about myself.

1. I did a very small stint as a stand up comic in college. The night I bombed horribly taught me more about performing than the nights I did well.
2. The consistency of bananas freaks me out to the point where I can't even listen to my children eat them.
3. I'm going to steal Bones's one here, because he put it so well. "The English language doesn't contain words that accurately express my excitement for the Transformers movie."
4. I always think I look about 10 pounds heavier than I actually am.
5. I wish I could draw.
6. I wish I had more time to cook more elaborate meals.
7. I always tear up when Superman saves the jet in Superman Returns.
8. I enjoy playing multiplayer games, not because I can get a lot of kills, or score a lot of points, but because I can consistently crack people up in the pre-game lobby.

There you go. I'd tag Greg, but I know he doesn't have the time what with Lia Howley, Baby of Wonder having been born! Congrats Greg and Linda on your beautiful new addition. Congrats to Lia for being born and sorry the planet is so fucked up. Once you're old enough to eat ice cream, you'll find that a good brownie sundae goes a long way towards making it all better.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Ah the joys of the long weekend, with its sleeping in until 11, long, languid lunches at the restaurant of your choice and general lazy laying about. My weekend was nothing like this, but I remember what it was like and these thoughts make me weep.

The less said about the weekend the better, however I can say that my children but the "long" in long weekend.

That crashing sound you heard earlier today was Target shattering the Transformers movie toy street date with impunity. I ventured there to return some shirts and felt drawn, nay, pulled to the toy aisle. What greeted me but a host of Transformer toys, including the Leader class Optimus Prime and the Voyager class Ironhide and Starscream. I almost missed Ironhide, but thankfully, my keen eye and persistent collector's spirit took over and I rummaged around like a crazy person. There were no Deluxe figures to speak of, other than the Protoform toys, but they did have all the Real Gear toys. They look like fun and I am anxiously awaiting their arrival.

Optimus is fucking huge, which he should be for 44 goddamn dollars. He, Ironhide and Starscream are currently in the back of the van, waiting for me to take them home and make with the Transforming. This leaves only Ratchet, Blackout and Megatron for Saturday's auspicious toy release event. I'm going to try and wait until Saturday so that I can use some Wal-Mart store credit, but in all honesty, I have zero self control and will probably buy these early if the opportunity presents itself Wal-Mart is a stickler for not selling toys prior to street date lest they incur the wrath of Hasbro. Target apparently shrugs off said wrath, humming a jaunty tune all the while.

I apologize in advance for all of the Transformers stuff you'll have to endure in the coming days. This comment is directed mostly at my wife, but seeing how she represents something like 25% of this site's readership, I felt it was necessary.

If you thought it was easy to purchase old school glass jars for pickling and canning, you would be very, very wrong. Everywhere you look, space age polymers assault your senses, demanding you store your foodstuffs within their tight fitting confines, yet the classic profile of the mason jar is nowhere to be found. I'm all for modern conveniences but I'll be damned if my currently marinating batch of freezer pickles is bottled up in some plastic affront to long term food storage. My pickles deserve better than that. Much better.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Damn It Was A Good Day

Man, Thursday turned out to be one of the bestest days evar!

First, the Real Gear robots went on sale at the Hasbro online toy shop, so I was able to use my super Koju code for extra savings and free shipping, thereby saving myself even more money. These savings were offset somewhat by two new Real Gear robots I had no previous knowledge of, but in the end, it's all good. These should ship today, so hopefully I'll have them around the same time the toys go on sale at your local toy shops, unlike my other 6 toys which will arrive some time in the next decade.

Second, when I got home I had three glorious packages waiting for me. One of them was "3 and the Beast", the super rocking new album by Super 400. Not only did it arrive quickly, but my request for an autographed copy upon ordering was granted. Wahey! The band and I hail from the same area and I was able to leverage this for some sweet, sweet John Hancockery. My second package was this very cool Overcompensating poster from web cartoonist extraordiaire, Jeff Rowland. It too was autographed and had a little sketch of Joanna the zombie cat. It patiently awaits framing in its cardboard sleeve. There will only be 250 of these, so I'm like a collector or something. My third package was from Bones and Cathie to celebrate the momentous occasion that was my birth. It included a protoform Optimus Prime and a very nice, stand up Superman card decorated with a custom Batman sketch by Bones himself. It also had some disparaging comments regarding Superman Returns which I have chosen to ignore lest the bonds of friendship between Bones and I go up in flames.

I know it seems like the day absolutely could not get any better, but I was there, and I'm here to tell you that it totally did.

I fired up Crackdown to commandeer some more cars and await a my co-worker Matt's arrival so we could continue the time trials on Psychotic, when I remembered that previous car commandeering missions took me past a hidden orb on a bridge that I wanted to go back and collect. I did not know that you could walk on a catwalk under the bridge, and after collecting the orb, I noticed there were apartment buildings also under the bridge. I ventured over there, found another hidden orb and what, off to the right did I see, but one of the three remaining agility orbs I needed. I ran over and collected it and then went back to the apartment buildings to scour some more. After collecting another hidden orb, I looked around and realized that these buildings bordered some rock outcroppings that I had seen when taking down one of the gang bosses but never really explored. As I looked over the outcroppings, I saw yet another agility orb. I ran over and collected it and was now up to 499 of 500 orbs. Surely there can't be any more, I thought. Best be safe, I thought. I ran over some rocks, to a peninsula that looked vaguely unfamiliar and that's when I saw it.

Ladies and gentlemen, what you see before you is Agility Orb 500 of 500. After going upstairs and behaving like a giddy schoolgirl in front of my wife, I quickly sent a message to Matt regarding my find and then picked up the controller and slowly moved my Agent into the orb, thereby collecting it and unlocking the coveted Free Runner achievement. 50 achievement points gained and one big weight removed from my gaming neck. Truly this is a day that will live forever.

After that it was all good in the hood, kicking time trials ass and taking names. Soon the Psyche Out achievement will also fall before me and I can continue commandeering vehicles all willy nilly.

Once the gaming was done, it was back upstairs to watch the Lost finale, which just happened to be one of the finest season finales I've ever seen and cemented Lost's status as one of the best shows on televison.

Today I didn't even have to use my A.K.
I got to say it was a good day .

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rock Around the Calendar

Before we get to the subject of the post, there is exciting toy news to discuss. The Transformer movie toys officially come out on June 2nd, however to coincide with last week's splendiferous trailer, Hasbro has allowed stores to start selling 6 figures. This would be your Bumblebee, Wreckage, Barricade, Brawl, Jazz and Scorponok. So far, I haven't seen these figures anywhere, but seeing how Walmart is still stocked with figures from the Classics line, as well as a glut of Spider-Man toys, and Target is content with rows and rows of empty pegs, I'm not surprised.

As you should know by now, I am an impatient man when it comes to games and Transformers. Waiting until I stumbled across the figures at my favorite retail shop is not something I deal well with. Thankfully, the Hasbro online toy shop is not only open, but has the figures in stock. My gaming buddy Kojubat was kind enough to provide me with a code that gives the bearer both free shipping and 25% off, so not only did I score the six figures with minimal hassle, but I saved 12 bucks in the process. That's the price of another toy. Woo-hoo! I also get some free Transformer magnets which I find somewhat ironic as presumably, they would wipe clean the mind of any robotic being they come across, thereby destroying the very commodities they advertise. The only downside here is that between the processing time and the shipping time, it'll be about 4 weeks until I get the blasted things. No worries here. Should I find the figures out in retail, I can buy them, begin enjoying them and then just return the ones I receive in the mail. Truly, this is a glorious day. That leaves several I now need to find come June 2, but it's 6 less than there were when I woke up this morning.

Details on Guitar Hero 3 were released today and while normally I would be all a twitter with excitement for the delicious song information, my copy of Guitar Hero 2 for the 360 sits in the corner a scant 2 months old. How can I be excited for a spate of new songs when I haven't even 5 starred all of the existing tour songs on Medium and have yet to even buy all the indies? Loathe as I am to say it, it would appear that Guitar Hero has been turned into the Madden of the rhythm game genre.

This new version of Guitar Hero will support both the Wii and the PS3, which allows for even further market penetration, but for those of us lured to the 360 version by the siren song of downloadable content, I fear our hopes have just come crashing down to Earth. If the next version of the full game is to be release some 7 - 8 months after the last one, I fail to see how there is enough time and development resources at Neversoft to produce both new, downloadable songs and a full version of the game on 3 different platforms, 2 of which they have never developed on before. Oh, did I not mention that Neversoft has never actually made a Guitar Hero game?

Now, just because I'm proclaiming doom, it doesn't mean that doom is upon is. There are a few scenarios that would allow us to download songs. First, is that Neversoft has two teams, one for developing the new version and one for developing new download only songs. I find this somewhat hard to believe as the cost must be prohibitive and why allocate resources to develop songs that will be purchased piecemeal, when you can instead force people to pay 60 bucks for the entire catalog?

The second option is that the newly announced 80's expansion pack for Guitar Hero 2, which, so far, is a PS2 exclusive, will be available via download on Live. If this is the case, I doubt they'll break up the songs, but anything is possible. All I know is that I'd sooner let a rabid Wildebeest in my home to fuck my couch than I would anything by Flock of Seagulls or Poison.

The third option is that, as development continues on GH3, they'll release a few songs for purchase that will hook into GH2 and allow you to increase your leaderboard scores and such. In earlier, more innocent days you would have called this a demo. People will bitch and moan about having to pay now for songs they could just wait to buy later, but in the end the need to download something, anything, will win, just as people bitched and moaned over the price of the downloadable GH1 songs but ultimately bought them to validate their 360 purchase.

Personally, knowing that another version of Guitar Hero will be available in less than a year, I don't really feel the need to download songs. As I mentioned before I've a fair amount to accomplish in Guitar Hero 2 and if 3 will have multiplayer over Live, then I feel as if my 360 purchase has been justified. In fact, I feel that way already as the 360 controller is infinitely more responsive than it's PS2 counterpart, a fact confirmed by my going back and playing GH1 on the PS2. Achievements are also a big draw, regardless of what that says about my vanity. I'm somewhat disappointed that downloadable songs seem to be stuck in the past, but at 2 bucks a pop, their pricing model did not inspire confidence, even less so knowing full versions will come every fall. I will go out on a limb and say that Rocktober will favor heavily.

I know that I haven't spoken of Rock Band, but at this point, the one controller I have purchased marks the most I'm willing to spend on hardware in my quest to become a fake rock star. An extra 200 dollars is folly, even if it includes a drum and a microphone. Also, I have spent enough time attending college open mic nights to know that some people have no business singing, yet feel as if they were put on this Earth to do just that. I have no desire to meet these people online and were I to do so, their torturing of my favorite songs would haunt my dreams.

Finally, if ever you wondered if a dog can blow out its knee, I am hear to tell you "yes". The proof is currently asleep on my family room floor. Not only can they blow out one knee, but if they're fat and female like my dog, chances are they'll blow out both back knees. When I tell people about this, their first question usually regards how much it will cost to fix her knee. My answer is that my dog is 11 and has led a wonderfully full life. That usually ends the conversation as to not leads to a fairly grim economics lesson.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Business as Usual

Greetings friends! It's great to be back.

I was taken to task by a coworker today over the fact that it has been 10 days since my last post. My excuse of a vacation fell on deaf ears as he is well aware of my PDA phone with it's web browser and unlimited data plan. Truly the shape of my shame was laid bare. Mr. Stewart, this one is for you.

I have some things regarding my vacation to share with you, various tips and tricks, but first, some news on my burgeoning career as a freelance game reviewer. As we speak, the gears of commerce are slowly moving forward, stuffing the retail channels with the first game I will be reviewing. We will leave titles unspoken at this point, lest I speak out of turn, however my hopes are that you will be able to read the review for yourself in a short time. It would appear that, for the time being anyways, the 4 reviews I had planned between now and the end of June, have possible been cut down to two, due to difficulties obtaining games. I did not know this, but apparently, some companies are easy to get review copies from, and some are not. I am not so stupid as to mention those that aren't, however, I can say that one of them surprised me. I know that with spiraling game development costs, publishers can't be sending copies out willy-nilly, however I can't imagine that one copy given for review purposes would be the difference between a sequel and an abject failure. Also, is not a fly by night operation. When I receive a check, it will be signed by the fine folks at Mad Catz, makers of gaming peripherals for every conceivable system. Truly, these people are not interested in pissing off game publishers thereby shitting where they eat. Whatever ends up happening, know that soon my unbiased opinions will be available for all to read. More so than usual, that is.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, allow me to present you with the 5th grade classic, updated for the new millenium...

Things I Learned On My Summer Vacation

1. The ocean cares not for your golf course.
The beach we went to was bordered by a golf course, a golf course that is slowly being eaten away by the ocean. Sandbags were used to keep the water from surging forward and taking away the 18th hole's fairway support, however pieces of the golf course were still falling off onto the beach. Truly, Poseidon is not a fan of the sport.

2. Sandbags feel remarkably like angry sea creatures.
The sandbags used to keep the golf course from sinking into the briny depths, made their way down the beach, often times under the water. Finding these sandbags with one's foot resulted in squeals of horror, namely from myself, as I thought that I was stepping on a crab the size of a 5 lb sack of flour.

3. Not all beaches are the same.
Some beaches are filled with soft, warm sand, just right for digging your feet into, and feeling the warm, grainy goodness between your feet. Some beaches, like our beach, has high tide every 12 hours, thereby packing the sand down to concrete type hardness. This makes for nice walking, easy shell finding and good material for sand castles, however were you to play a game of beach football, you'd dislocate your shoulder on that spectacular diving catch.

4. Charleston, SC is filled with insanely attractive women.
If you are a woman and you live in Charleston, or, Lord help you, attend Charleston College, there's a pretty good chance you are attractive to the point of causing physical pain. When you think of American cities that are filled with attractive women, cities like Miami and Los Angeles come to mind. Charleston, not so much, but rest assured that I speak the truth, and this city is a haven for young, good looking women.

5. Charleston, SC is filled with bow ties.
It must be a southern thing, but a lot of guys wear suits with bow ties. This, coupled with the previous point makes the chances of even a remotely attractive person scoring a date in Charleston fairly high. Unless, of course, women in Charleston are into bow ties. Somehow, I find that hard to believe, unless you're speaking of the 95 year old members of the local "Daughters of the Confederacy" chapter.

6. Two year olds make shitty traveling companions.
It's nothing against them, they're just not built for travel. Well, my daughter isn't anyways. I remember taking my son to Chicago for Christmas when he was barely a year old. He managed to contract dual ear infections that couldn't have been pleasant, yet he wasn't nearly as cranky and deranged as my daughter was on this trip. Part of this is because she didn't nap in the day time, except for in the car, and part of this, I'm sure, was due to the change in surroundings. Thankfully, we were all able to joke about it. Well, all but my son, who, by the end of the week, was driven to hysterics by her incessant wailing. On the plus side, this is the last year she'll be two and next year we'll know to a) put them in separate rooms for sleeping and b) bring more liquor.

7. I am the table game king.
I was the only person in the vacation party to win at both Yahtzee and Uno. Truly this makes me a gaming god amongst mortals. They should be happy that Risk wasn't present, or I would have ground their spirits under my boot heel.

8. Small, local owned businesses are overrated.
We ate at several small, local owned business and while some were good, some were overpriced and with shitty services. That's not to say that chain restaurants offer unparalleled service and value, however going to the local sandwich shop is just as much of a crap shoot as to the quality of the meal and the service as stopping at your local Denny's.

9. I enjoy watching bowling.
I watched Classic Bowling every day on ESPN and have grown to enjoy watching bowling very, very much. That Danny Wiseman is a hoot. Classic is a relative term, as some of the matches were from 2 years ago, while some were from closer to 20. It was funny to see how much bowling had been turned into entertainment from the older matches until now. Truly, ESPN is closer to The Ocho than they realize.

10. Walking on the beach with someone you love absolutely makes a vacation.
Linda had planned this whole trip, and she stressed out over the whole thing, but in the end, it all worked out really, really well. Despite all of the little bumps and hitches in the trip, it was nice to spend a week with the family, nice to eat out a whole bunch and nice to walk on the beach with the woman I love. The aforementioned bowling was also nice, just not as nice as the beach thing. I mean, I like bowling, but not enough to get divorced over it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Gamer's Guide to Vacation

Summer is upon us, and with it, we emerge from our dark basements and gaming dens to sample the great and wondrous treasures this world has to offer. Yes, I'm talking about vacation, those glorious trips to various, far flung parts of the world where we experience the best that leisure has to offer, while at the same time, remind us why we choose to spend so much of our time not interacting with other human beings.

Seeing how gamers can be, how do I put this nicely, an obsessive lot, I've come up with some tips to help you get the most out of your vacation, while at the same time not end up so distraught over being disconnected from your hobby that you end up trying to play Barbie Horse Adventures on an Xbox made out of driftwood and dead jellyfish.

I should note that I'm going on vacation next week and will do my best to post, however I can't guarantee anything. This will differ wildly from normal weeks in that at least this time, you know ahead of time that I'm ignoring you.

Check the Calendar
The easiest way to ensure you don't miss a moment of pure, gaming goodness is to check the calendar and avoid content heavy months. Going on a trip to beautiful Prague in October or November is, in a word, stupid. Vacationing anywhere during the heady holiday buying season is a no-no, unless your traveling to your basement and have just told family and co-workers that you're in Europe so that they won't bother you while you play GTA IV.

The summer months are usually fine as game releases slow to a trickle, except for the various movie tie in games that undoubtedly suck as much, if not more, than the explosive, blockbuster bullshit they're based on. Now that E3 is dead and gone, travel restrictions in May have also been lifted. Take me, for example. I looked at the calendar for this coming week and saw that nothing was going on of any gaming importance, so I was free to be away from my 360. What? The Halo 3 Beta? Ha-ha-ha. Very funny. Wait, what? You're serious? Dammit!

Location, Location, Location
Where you go on vacation can be just as important as when you go on vacation as certain destinations will allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of gaming while others will allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of a badger or a wild boar. Here's a breakdown of common vacationing spots:

The Woods
Pros: No one fights over the Wiimotes because there's no power. Allows you to fulfill MMORPG fantasies of beating on small rodents with big sticks. Mosquitos eat free.
Cons: You're forced to live like savages, hanging your food from trees and pooping in a hole you dug yourself. No Wi-Fi. Bears not as friendly in real life as they were on "Gentle Ben".

The Beach
Pros: Usually near cities for evening portable recharging. Hot chicks in bathing suits. Allows you to fulfill MMORPG fantasies of unleashing your "healing potion" on jellyfish stings.
Cons: Grandmas in bathing suits. Impossible to get sand out of a Sixaxis. Pale gamer skin prone to bursting into flame when exposed to more than 20 minutes of continuous sunlight.

The City
Pros: Ample power and internet connections for marathon gaming sessions. Game stores abound. Opportunity to meet online only gaming friends in person.
Cons: You're not fooling anyone by claiming you're "vacationing" in Cleveland. Meeting online only gaming friends in person reminds you why you choose to only meet people online.

The Mountains
Pros: Clear line of sight for exceptional cell phone service.
Cons: Amorous mountain goats.

Equipment Check
Obviously you're going to take some kind of video game system with you. I mean, let's be serious here. If you're like me, you could no sooner be away from your liver for a week than you could your DS and it's good buddy Mr. Puzzle Quest. Which system you bring will depend on a number of factors, including length of stay, who's going with you and the other planned activities. Once again, I break it down for you.

Here we consider the DS, the PSP and most cell phone games. Portables offer the easiest opportunity to game on the go, however your game type selection is limited and unless you're planning on trading for Grandma's Squirtle, the games don't necessarily let the rest of the family in on the action. By the way, "Grandma's Squirtle" would be an excellent name for a rock band.

The Wii would be an excellent choice if traveling to visit family, however prying the Wiimote out of Uncle Charlie's hands after he relives his glory days as a high school tennis player may not be your idea of a fun time. Be prepared to explain what a "mini-game" is as you won't find much more than that on this system. The 360 is an excellent choice, except for the fact that even the slightest of jostling may cause the dreaded Red Ring of Death, or quite possibly, a thermonuclear explosion. The 360 also opens up the possibility of your 7 year old cousin scoring multiple headshots on you, and I don't think your ego can handle that. The PS3 is a sturdy machine, capable of traveling well, however after purchasing one you probably don't have any money left for vacationing. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

A souped up gaming laptop offers the best mix of games and also allows you to turn that Shriner's Convention into a LAN party, provided the hotel doesn't mind you taking over the business center. The laptop can also double as a DVD player on the plane which will come in handy when the airlines start dropping movies to cut costs. Just leave the hentai at home. The downside of the laptop is that you may, upon arriving at your hotel, want to log in for "just a quick second" to see what your WOW guild is doing and then, 5 days later, realize you never left your hotel room and instead spent several thousand dollars to engage in an activity you could have done at home, free of charge.

As you can see, making the correct gaming choices can be the difference between an exciting and meaningful vacation that allows you to reconnect with family and friends, and a trip where you stay abreast of gaming news and manage to finally capture your last Pokemon to the delight of no one but yourself. Choose wisely!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When I'm Thirty-Five

And lo, on this day a child was born and it was good.

That child, in case you haven't guess yet, was me. Well, not just me, as I have it on good authority that other people also share this birthday, but for the purposes of this post, the child in question is me. Glad we got that cleared up.

Yes dear reader, I am the grand old age of 35 today. In many parts of the world, this would put me at, or beyond middle age. I still have a few years to get to that part for here in the good old U S of A, provided my lumbago doesn't act up and kill me. Can you even die of lumbago? Something to ponder.

This birthday is different from my recent birthdays in that I'm working today. Well, I'm at work today. Ever since I had kids, every one of my celebratory birthday days off has been crashed by a sick child so I decided to end the streak today and go to work. In retrospect, this was a bad idea as I'd really like to be at home right now playing Okami. Next year I'll try and fake them out and take the day after my birthday off. That'll teach those fuckers.

Being that it's my birthday, I think it's time to take stock in my life and see where I am in my grand plans for complete global domination.

A healthy dictator is a happy dictator. Once I take over the world, I can't have rumors of poor health sparking the populace into revolt. I don't know how Castro does it as he appears to have died several years ago and now is just an animated corpse, ruling from beyond the grave. So far, I have no health issues to speak of, other than all the skin on my face falling off. Seriously. It's kind of gross. I think it's stress. Really, I have no idea, but after a trip to the dermatologist, things appear to be under control. On the plus side, if it continues, I can get one of those bad ass Cobra Commander hoods. It's what every despot needs! I'd consider a Destro style metal mask, but I don't think that thing breathes too well. What's that gotta smell like at the end of a hard day of mercenary style destruction? Not good.

I have applied for life insurance so that my family is provided for should I perish, and in doing so have gotten a full run down on all of my bodily humours. No real surprises there. Slightly low good cholesterol and slightly high non-bad fat. Basically I need to eat more fish and exercise. I abhor fish, so that ain't gonna happen but I have started working out 3 times a week. We have a free gym in my office building now, so between that and rollerblading I've already lost no weight to speak of. This is mostly because I haven't changed my eating habits any. I figured that if I started working out and starving myself, I wouldn't stick to either, so my plan is to get used to working out and then start eating less. So far I'm finding working out quite enjoyable as the treadmill allows me to keep up on all of my magazines. There's nothing like walking on a treadmill while reading "Food and Wine" and watching the Food Network. Hmmmm, I think I see why I'm not eating less.

The job is going swimmingly, thanks. Everyone is still very nice to work with and I'm enjoying the work. Testing can still be boring, but there's enough test case development and general process improvement stuff to make it interesting. Plus, at times the workload is slow enough to allow me to do things like post on this here site. Can't complain there.

On a somewhat related note, I've been given the opportunity to write game reviews over at I'm not considering it a done deal until I see my name over there on a review, but just the fact that they're willing to give me a shot is enough for me. I don't see this as being a career change for me, as 50 bucks a review ain't gonna feed my family, but to be paid for something that I've written, no matter how small is a huge deal for me. I've been writing on this site, and it's previous incarnation for about 4 years now and it's always been tough for me to get my writing out in front of more eyes. That's not to say that I'll be using GameShark to promote this site, but the fact that more people will be able to read my writing is thrilling. It's also completely terrifying and I get wigged out about once a day over it. I apologize in advance for the GameShark pimpery that begins once my reviews start popping up.

The family is great. No complaints there. The kids are still a pain in the ass, but at 2 and 4, that's pretty much their function. I'm not going to jinx anything and mention anything else positive about them and instead just say that they are functioning well within normal operational parameters.

Linda continues to be the bright point in my life. I don't know what I'd do without her and I'm thankful for every day I get to spend with her. She too is still a pain in the ass.

This is where the majority of my problems lie. There's just not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. There are too many movies to watch and games to play and not enough time to do it. I'm about a third of the way through Okami, about half way through Guitar Hero 2, still have to finish Gears of War in Insane, haven't broken 200 in Wii Sports bowling yet and have over 100 movies that I've purchased and haven't watched yet. I also have a stack of PS2 and Gamecube games to play and I have to finish Puzzle Quest and Pokemon Diamond. If you add review games to the mix, I'll be spending even less time playing the games I've purchased. Not a bad problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Hopefully, once I've ground the world beneath my boot heel I'll have some spare time. I'm hoping to outsource all of the putting down of uprisings, so that should free up some time on my schedule.

So, as you can see, things are going pretty well for me, which is why I expect to be flattened by a piano the moment I stop writing this and get u---


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Morning Laugh

Bones, this one is for you. I was going to post something Wed. night, but I got lazy. Then I felt bad that I didn't have a laugh for you on Thursday morning. I plan on posting Thursday morning, but in the event I don't get it done before your visit, I now present you with my most favoritest joke in the whole world.


Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

Thank you! And thank you to Groucho Marx, from whom I stole it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

News from the Front

Last night I was treated to a balls to the wall explosion of Nerdcore Hip-Hop by none other than the godfather of the movement, MC Frontalot.

The Front put on an amazing show to a packed audience of approximately 50 or so people. While that may seem like an extremely low number, there are a few things to consider. One, is that it was a Sunday night. Two is that wack sucka punks were expressly forbidden from entering. This may have had a detrimental effect on the number of people attending, however the quality of the audience members far exceeded anything you'd find at a mainstream concert.

And what a concert it was! Front had a live band behind him and they did an admirable job providing him with the mad beats he thrives on. He played a nice mix of old and new stuff, and even used a 20 sided die to spin a tale of nerdcore hip-hop like the world has never seen. "Secrets From the Future", "Origin of the Species", "Special Delivery" and "I Heart Fags" were particularly rocking and threatened to shake the world's very foundation.

As great as the music was, the best part of the evening was being able to chat with Front, and his band leader Gaby prior to the show. Front was kind enough to sell me a t-shirt and autograph a cd prior to his set, however the opening band was so loud, I was unable to communicate except for crude hand gestures. I don't know about you, but I am unable to convey deep musical appreciation with only my hands. Upon returning from the restroom, I saw him chilling outside and decided to do the usual fanboy thing and completely butt in on his personal time. Oh yeah.

Front was very gracious in taking the time to speak to me. It's rare to be able to express, in person, one's gratitude to the artists that provide us with so much enjoyment. I told him how much I loved the new album and how the hooks and beats were so good, that I couldn't see any reason why it couldn't compete with anything on the radio. He seemed pleased, and even said, that I should tell Gaby, the aforementioned band leader, the same thing. He then called Gaby over with a "Hey Gaby, he really likes the record." He then politely excused himself so that he could get changed for the show. I chatted with Gaby for another 10 minutes before he had to leave about a number of topics including the upcoming Nerdcore documentary,"Nerdcore Rising", how well the current album is doing and how past shows went. Gaby was just as nice and as accommodating as Front was and even suggested that I email Baddd Spellah to tell him how much I enjoyed the beats on Front's album. For the record, I have done just that.

After the show, Front was back selling merchandise and posing for pictures. I complimented him on his awesome performance and my friend Joel snapped the following picture.

If you were to suggest that Front and yours truly were separated at birth, I would not deny it. I usually don't wear glasses except for when driving, but seeing how I was among my people, I felt comfortable enough wearing them. It's been a long time since I've felt comfortable wearing glasses. I even got complimented on my shirt by someone who said that they'd seen it online, and always wanted to buy it, but never were brave enough to actually wear it out. Apparently it takes a special kind of person to wear in public a shirt depicting a monkey milking a cow. I am just that special.

You've still got some time to see Front out on tour, and if you can, please do so. You'll be supporting a great artist and will be treated to an evening of fantastic live music in the process. Seems too easy, I know, but I checked, and there's just the right amount of ease involved.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Parenting Tips, Part Deux

Exciting things are afoot. Maybe. I don't want to get into it too much as I don't want to jinx it, and I don't know all of the details yet, but there's a possibility that my "work" may reach a larger audience. No, I'm not talking about plastering the neighborhood with copies of my stuff. As I said, I don't want to say too much, so I'll just choose to not say any more. It's cryptically delicious!

There was a pretty good response to my last post regarding parenting tips, so I've decided to supplement them with real world examples from our recent experiences.

On You and Wrongness
We're in the middle of potty training our daughter and it is not what I'd call a raging success. Half of the time we can catch her before she goes all over the place, but usually she'll sit there for 15 minutes, then get off and promptly pee all over herself. At this point she sees the potty nothing but a nuisance as it requires her to stop whatever she's doing every 15 minutes and try and go to the bathroom. Some days she sees this as more than a nuisance and gets downright pissed off. This is accompanied by a fair amount of crying. This is rare and only happens when she's tired, or in a bad mood. Ok, maybe it's not that rare, but it's not all the time either. My in-laws were in town this past weekend and my mother-in-law, who thinks that her granddaughter can do no wrong, seemed to think that us putting Abby on the toilet, when she didn't want to go was some form of psychological abuse. My mother-in-law called Linda on Monday and asked Linda if Linda thought that the potty training was, and I quote, "damaging Abby's psyche."

Once again, we are always wrong.

Here's the thing about young, toddler-age kids. They have it pretty damn easy. They have no job and no chores. They have all their meals provided to them free of charge and with no strings attached. They can eat like pigs with minimal social backlash and just crap in their pants whenever they want to, knowing full well that at some point, some adult will clean them up and send them on their merry way. Diapers these days have become so technologically advanced that they could carry a month's worth of water, to the point that the kid feels no discomfort when they go in them. Asking a kid who doesn't have to take the time to stop and go to the bathroom, to stop and go to the bathroom isn't going to damage their psyche, it's just going to annoy them. What will damage my daughter's psyche is her going to prom in a diaper.

We also recently moved her to a bed, and like most kids who are no longer confined to a crib, she gets down and out of bed and frolics in her room prior to going to bed. We're fine with that, as we went through similar experiences with my son, and continually going up and yelling at him to get into bed isn't particularly relaxing for anyone involved. Her room is childproofed and as long as she stays in bed once we tell her it's time to go to sleep, we're ok. The problem is that sometimes, after she's been told to go to sleep, she gets pretty damn upset. If, at this point, you thought that my daughter gets upset at a wide range of trivial matters, you would be entirely correct. After we told her to go to bed one time, and she started screaming, my mother-in-law asked us if we thought that leaving Abby's bedroom door open would be a solution to the screaming. Well, certainly it would, however it wouldn't get her to go to bed. See, when she pounds on the door, it's not because she's a budding percussionist. She wants to get out of the frakking room! Because Abby is crying, and her grandmother can't bear to hear it, whatever we're doing to cause the crying, even if it's perfectly legitimate like, oh, I don't know, putting her to bed, must be wrong.


Sometimes, your child's crying is the only indication that you've gotten through to them. I'm not suggesting that you make them cry every time you want to make a point, but once she stopped crying, she fell asleep. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

Who knew you could ever be so wrong, so much and still be allowed to raise children? Truly we live in glorious times. I can't wait until my kids grow up and start raising their children in a completely wrong environment. Oh the times we'll have!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

As a Service to Our Readers

I had planned on posting something every day this week. As you can see, I have failed from the outset. There are times I lament the loss of free will that has come with my DS. I am powerless to resist it, often times losing entire stretches of my evening to its dual screened clutches. I try to put it down, but then there's an ogre that needs an ass whupping, or my mount needs training, not to mention the scores and scores of wild Pokemon hiding in the tall grass just waiting to be imprisoned, catalogued and forced into battle for my amusement. It is not that I don't love you, dear readers, I've just found something that I love more. It happens. Try not to take it personally.

To make up for my complete and total ignoring of this site, and you by extension, I have decided to bestow upon you, free of charge, my sage, child rearing advice. Greg Howley of Blog of Wonder fame and his tastefully named wife Linda are expecting their first child this summer and I, being not only a super awesome parent, but super generous, have decided to share my parenting tips. I know, I know. No need to thank me. Those of you who are already accustomed to spending time with your own little monsters, er, offspring, may well find good information here. Those of you who don't feel the need to spend all of your free time and money on beings that will ultimately grow to hate and abandon you need only keep reading to affirm your decision to stay unshackled until the icy finger of death frees you from your lonely, unfulfilled existence.

1. Everything You Do Is Wrong
This is probably the biggest, most important tip I can give you . Everything you do as a parent will be wrong. Everything. You'll know this because everyone from your parents to random people on the street will tell you how everything you're doing to raise your child is wrong to the nth degree of wrongness. Eventually, and by eventually I mean roughly 7 minutes into your journey as a parent, you will begin to question every decision you make, and every action you take as a parent. This will extend from the mundane like, should little Timmy have strained peas or strained broccoli for dinner to the extreme like, should I have let Timmy burn his hand on the stove, or should I have not pushed him out of the way, instead opting for a more verbal approach. Sometimes, when you're out and about, you'll see a parent freaking out at their child. This parent has gotten their higher consciousness so caught up in thinking and over thinking that the lower brain functions had to take over and prevent this child from running roughshod over the world. For the record, the lower brain functions don't take no shit.

2. Babies are Hella Boring
It's true. Oh sure, there's that whole parental wonder thing going on, but for the most part, infants are rocking the express train to Snoresville. You may get all excited when the baby rolls over for the first time, or sits up for the first time, but after an hour of watching the same baby roll over and sit up, you're ready to shoot yourself. Be sure to take this valuable time when your baby is immobile to catch up on your reading, or your tv watching and video game playing. If you're worried about them seeing violent content, just turn them away from the tv. It'll be a good 6 months before they can right themselves so they can see what you're doing. Watching HGTV or the Food Network is also an option. You've got the rest of your life to interact with them. Besides, once they start crawling and pulling themselves upright, your days as a sedentary, lazy-ass parent are over.

3. They Will Always Get Sick At the Most Inconvenient Time Ever. E-V-E-R.
Upon reading this, you might think that there's no convenient time to get sick, so what's the big deal? Not so. If both parents work, the weekend is much more convenient time as you don't have to take any time off of work to tend to little Mary Jane Snot-n-Cough. If only one parent works, the weekend is more convenient as now there are two of you to worry that little Timmy's fever means the onset of Diphtheria. I know what you're thinking. "Why would I want to ruin my weekend with a sick kid?" Well, I got news for you pally. You're weekend got ruined the minute the turkey timer popped up. You have kids now, you don't have weekends any more, at least not like you used to. Sleeping in? Gone. Leisurely reading the paper while you decide what to do for the day? Gone. Staying in bed and watching crappy movies on HBO because, what the hell else do you have to do? Gone. Gone. Gone. Oh sure, eventually you'll be able to do all that again, but it's so far off you might as well file it away with the hovercars, personal jetpacks and interstellar space travel. You're already with the kids, so why not have them be sick then, rather than when you're at work? Work is nice. Work has coffee and donuts and adult conversation. We like work. We don't want to have to be away from work because our kid's nose looks like a laffy taffy factory. The corollary to this rule is that kids will not get sick when it's inconvenient for them, only when it's inconvenient for you. They could get Typhoid Fever the day before they have a birthday party to go to, be fine for the party and then be back to being sick in time for you to go to work.

4. Children's Music Sucks
It does. There's some that's tolerable, but for the most part, children's music sucks. If you look hard enough, you can find normal people's music that will satisfy your children, whatever their musical tastes may be. Both of my children enjoy a good Bruce Springsteen album. My son prefers more melodic songs with lots of "la la la la" and "heyyyy ooooohh" kind of things so that he can sing along. For example, he likes "Boston" by Augustana and "Snow (Hey Oh)" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My daughter is partial to the Rock. She doesn't seem to care what it is, as long as it shreds, but she has gotten down with her bad self to Pearl Jam, My Chemical Romance and Green Day. Exposing them to good music does three things. One, it makes car rides enjoyable as at least you get to listen to your music while your children blather on about riding in space tractors or some shit. Two, when your child is acting like a jerk you can look at them and think "Well, he likes the Red Hot Chili Peppers, so he can't be all that bad." Finally, if they grow up liking good music, then you can save yourself some money down the line and make them buy the cd's. Score!

5. There's Always Something
This is probably the second most important thing I can tell you. There is always something. A less positive way of saying this is that nothing is ever easy. For every thing you stress out over that ends up being fairly painless, something that seems simple will be a huge struggle. We recently moved my daughter to a bed. Part of this was to prepare for her being in a bed when we go on vacation, but part of this was because she seemed unhappy in the crib and we figured that if she was in a bed she could get down and play before going to sleep at night rather than screaming for an hour. My son plays at night and when he's ready for bed, he turns the light off, gets in his bed and goes to sleep. Seems pretty simple, right? Wrong. She's mastered the getting out of bed thing, but has also mastered the pounding on the door with her little fists and feet thing. When this happens, we go up and tell her to knock it off, which then causes her to break down in a fit of screaming rage because she's tired and doesn't want to go to bed. So now we've supplemented the previous crib screaming with furious door pounding. Nice. She doesn't seem to understand what the bed is for, as the past few nights when I've gone in to check on her before I turn in, she's asleep on the floor. My daughter seems to naturally gravitate to the high drama so things are a lot less easy with her than with my son, but he has had his fair share of difficult moments. If you can steel yourself with the knowledge that there's always something, perhaps you'll be better equipped to deal with it. Doubtful, but there's always hope.

At this point, I'm sure you're expecting me to close with some line about how all the hard work is worth it and it's the most rewarding and enriching experience you'll ever have. Well, I don't know what experiences you've had, so I have no idea if this will prove to be either rewarding or enriching. I do know however, that now that you have kids, you're stuck with them for the rest of your life, so it would be in your best interests to raise children that you'd like to hang out with. Barring a prison term on either of your parts, you'll be hanging out with them for quite some time. It is important that you do your part as a parent to not raise an asshole as the world has quite enough of them already, thank you very much. It's also important that you raise your kids such that you have a good relationship with them into their adulthood so that they can call you and complain about their kids doing the same things to them that they did to you. Then you can laugh, hang up and go back to watching your crappy HBO movie. After all, what the hell else do you have to do?