Saturday, November 27, 2004

Nintendo DS

Since Jackie has been feeling under the weather this past week, I gave her her birthday present a few weeks early: the new Nintendo DS and a copy of "The Urbz", the new console Sims game.

So far we've been very impressed with the DS, both in terms of overall functionality, presentation, and battery life. While "The Urbz" doesn't tax the capabilities of the system (I haven't really played it yet of course, but there's no 3D that I've been able to see, and so far touch-screen usage has been limited to option selection in the inventory menus -- though it's really cool to be able to use the inventory while your sim sleeps or reads or whatever they need to do) the graphics are much crisper than on the GBA SP (increased resolution will do that). The "Metroid: Prime" demo that came with the DS really does look incredible, though. It looks pretty much like the GameCube version would look like running on a screen of that size -- and the touch-screen controls for that game (basically it uses the touchscreen as a map/weapon select/analog control stick) are amazing.

Hopefully at some point (next year) we'll get Mario 64 DS which I guess is the best game out for it. Can't wait to try the wireless multiplayer and microphone capabilities at some point (I'd like to also pick up Sonic Team's "Feel The Magic" when that's in the bargain bin next year), as those are as yet untapped on our particular DS.

I would strongly recommend the DS for purchase as there's just so much that's cool about this system (even if the games aren't there just yet), if you can find one.
I spent most of my day off today playing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time for GameCube. I'd picked up the game many months ago but had only made it a third of the way through when I put it on the shelf but I decided to pick it up again and I'm really glad I did. It's certainly one of the most fun games I've played in the past couple of years and for all the running and jumping it's not that frustrating at all. The story is also very cool (I especially liked the ending bit).

I hear the sequel which just came out isn't as good (and they ruined the prince character) so I'll probably be giving that one a pass....

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Here's a sample animation I whipped up quickly which represents the germ of an idea I have for a new game. I have a couple of ideas of the way the game could be developed, but anyway, here's a cool animation which shows the approximate design direction: priest_maze_1.swf

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Take a pill.
Form a band.
Lots of time now on your hands.
I don't care,
About movie,
At least not until Sept. thirty.

Cut the studio some slack.
For pushing the release date back.
Burn the ham
And boil the peas
While you wait for Sept. thirty.

There's no place that you will see
A movie called "Serenity".
At least before Sept. thirty...
So we watched the second episode of "House" on Fox tonight and usually I hate medical doctor shows (well, not HATE exactly), but since Hugh Luarie is one of the most underrated actors of all time (still will always remember both he and Stephen Fry best in the Jeeves and Wooster series) I figured it was worth a go.

And yeah, it's pretty funny for a medical doctor show. There are some good lines and while it's not High Art, Laurie manages to elevate the show to something it would otherwise not be (i.e. watchable). If you like seeing people get needles poked into their eyes and holes drilled into their skulls (along with complementary computer representations on a microscopic level) as a team of otherwise competent doctors misdiagnose that one in a million patient over and over and over again (to be fair, the break up the "A" patient plot with a number of "B", "C", and "D" patient plots which show that, yes, House, M.D., is, in fact, a very good diagnostician), then this is the show for you.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Taking a tip from the latest issue of Keyboard magazine, I checked out Jen's (just Jen, I guess) website: Apparently Jen does all of her own recording out of her apartment in NY, and so I picked up the EP (which including shipping sets me back $6). The audio samples sound pretty darned good, in my opinion. There'll be a capsule review of the EP when it arrives.

Anyone who digs my music is a friend of mine.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Incredibles

See this movie. See it now. And after you've seen it, see it again. This is the most amazing, awesomest movie I've ever seen. Better than Return of the King, better than The Passion. There's just too much to recommend.
Liberal Scientists believe man evolved by jogging.

Next year they'll publish their research which suggests that man can further evolve by driving hybrid vehicles built by Toyota, becoming vegetarian, putting solar cells on their roof, and voting for John Kerry.

Friday, November 19, 2004

If you ask me, with the November, 2004, issue, the New Oxford Review has gone from "cheeky" to "reeky". It's one thing to offer uncharitible critiques of major publications (even though they can't seem to bring themselves to distinguish in their attacks between the activities of Crisis magazine and Deal Hudson himself, who isn't even its publisher anymore) but when you go after individual 'bloggers (especially my friends) for what they write on their personal weblogs (especially when what they write there is consistent with Church teaching, you just don't like either what they have to say or they, themselves)... well, that goes beyond the merely petty into vindictiveness.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Best StrongBad email ever!
Government looking at military draft lists

The Selective Service System (SSS) and the U.S. Department of Education now are gearing up to compare their computer records, to make sure all men between the ages of 18 and 25 who are required to register for a military draft have done so.

The SSS and the education department will begin comparing their lists on Jan. 1, 2005, according to a memo authored by Jack Martin, acting Selective Service director.

Also in Louisiana, they're making boys register for the SSS when they get their drivers' license, the bastards.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


was pretty much as bad as I thought it would be. It was 'Xander's special, unsolicited request, though, so I was happy to pick it up. I wasn't prepared to laugh at it, though, like I did once or twice (mainly whenever the dog would start dancing, and then whenever I pictured Bill Murray in a sound booth recording some of his lines). Also the movie is pretty violent: remember that one Garfield comic strip where the star of a famous pet TV show is attacked by a pack of stray dogs from the pound and then those dogs put an electric, studded shock collar around his neck and then Garfield and Odie push buttons on a remote control to send thousands of volts of electricity through the collar (it had to be at least thousands, given the arcs coming off that collar and grounding out through a nearby iron railing) and then Jon and Liz walk in and Jon punches the poor guy (literally smoldering from the electrical current that had been running through his neck) full-on in the jaw so hard he knocks him out?

Neither do I.

The funniest part of the movie, though, was when Garfield did that thing they showed in all the trailers where he's in the bed of a pickup and the truck stops for a light and he flies forward and hits the glass, and then slides down the glass. 'Xander saw that part and then stared at us compeltely mortified -- since Garfield didn't appear immediately in the next scene it took all the convincing we could do to convince 'Xander that Garfield hadn't died. "National Study of the Changing Workforce" Reveals Significant Changes in Work and Family Lives of U.S. Employees

All you culture watchers out there might not be surprised by this, but I found this to be interesting:

Among the study's key findings:
Fathers in dual-earner couples today spend 42 minutes more doing household chores on workdays than fathers in 1977. Mothers have reduced their time by approximately the same amount. So the combined time that spouses in dual-earner couples with children spend on household chores has not changed over 25 years-what has changed is how family work is divided.

Employees with families report significantly higher levels of interference between their jobs and their family lives than employees 25 years ago (45% vs. 34% report this "some" or "a lot"). And men with families report higher levels of interference between their jobs and their family lives than women in the same situation.

Kind of cool that being a dad is now more important to more working men that it has been at any time over the last 25 years.

Monday, November 15, 2004

A cool idea to promote EA Games' "The Urbz". Sadly, we'll have to wait a few weeks yet for Evan Dorkin's entry.
Bubba Ho-Tep

Definitely not exactly what I thought it would be, not that it was any worse off for not being what I expected. I expected 90 minutes of Bruce Campbell as old Elvis and Ossie Davis as old JFK kicking mummy butt. What I got was about 15 minutes of Bruce Campbell as old Elvis and Ossie Davis as old JFK kicking mummy butt (which rocked), about 30 minutes of funny old Elvis and old JFK in a nursing home banter, and 45 minutes of Bruce Campbell as old Elvis (definitely one of his most memorable roles -- seriously, right up there with Ash) reflecting on life, being cast off, death, dying, and what it means to have a soul (as opposed to not); some of this reflection works and some of which doesn't. But it's Bruce Campbell as old Elvis, so the bad definitely offsets the good.

I would recommend it, but know what you're getting into. There is some classic Campbell physical comedy/action (as Elvis, even!), but there is far more talk (voiceover, actually -- which usually doesn't work, but, again, it's Bruce Campbell as old Elvis so it's good).

Sunday, November 14, 2004

As someone who works in an operations center and very closely with Tech Support, I appreciated this bit from Conan O'Brien's show very much.

Link via POF.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A nice turn of phrase from Barbara Nicolosi.

The sheep are so unused to beauty at the liturgy, that they feel like they have to bang their hooves together in pathetic gratitude whenever they get some.

And there are some other, as the French say, "good words" in that post, as well.
Lay Group Mobilizes Against Kinsey Fraud

Kinsey himself was a homosexual, with a predilection for young boys; in his research, he included studies of sexual activity with children, in flagrant violations of the law.
Kinsey's research activities led him to form alliances with pedophiles and pornographers, to rely on evidence furnished through a Nazi doctor's experiments, and to pressure his assistants into performing in sexually explicit films.

Trained as a zoologist, Kinsey violated dozens of scientific standards in his work. Yet because of his alliances with powerful groups such as the Rockefeller Foundation and Planned Parenthood, he managed to obtain widespread recognition for work that never passed through the ordinary process of scientific review, and has been contradicted by the available data from truly scientific studies.
There are some samples of the new TMBG/Disney alaphet collaboration online and this is SO going to rock. It looks to be a mixture of computer animation, live action ("QU" has to be one of the funniest things I've ever seen) and even the Deeply Felt Puppet Company shows up. 'Xander's already singing along to the video clips (which is not surprising considering he's memorized all the songs and dances from Direct from Brooklyn (and is now well on the way to memorizing all the concert footage from Gigantic.

The bad news: we have to wait until February.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Okay, I know that yesterday was Halo Day and that apparently it's the best game ever made, but I don't have an Xbox (Santa? Are you listening?) so it's Metroid: Prime 2: "Echoes" that I'm looking forward to quite a bit. It looks pretty awesome with the whole Ikaruga-style light vs. dark gameplay. The original Metroid: Prime is I think one of the best games ever in terms of story-telling, music, and general ambience. This video leads me to believe that M:P:Echoes will completely surpass the original in all these areas. I'm a far cry from a Nintendo fanboy, and as a musician I think the Metroid theme (really all the musical themes which run through the games) are some of the most evocative tunes written for games or even movies.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Lefty Media: Top court brands Belgian far-right party racist

Belgium's far-right Vlaams Blok was branded racist in a supreme court ruling that will force one of Europe's most successful anti-immigrant parties to relaunch itself.

I'm sorry, but I just have to represent. It'll be interesting to see what the Blok does next. Given the history of Flanders in terms of dealing with foreign invaders, what comes next could be quite good. Seriously, if they go after the Dutch influence on Flanders next (i.e. widespread euthanasia, gay marriage, abortion, general cultural extermination, etc.) the place may actually be worth repatriating at some point. Schild en vriend, baby.

(Incidentally, Vlaams means "Flemish" and Vlams is my login-id at work).
Wesley J. Smith: How To Talk California Taxpayers Out Of $3 Billion.

The bitter irony here is that while Californians refuse to fund treatment centers that could make the difference between people living and dying today, they are pursuing treatments and cures that, if they come at all, are likely a decade or more away. What could explain such folly? Blame the awesome power of big money, big celebrities, and big hype.

I'm going to have to pick up Smith's new book: Consumer's Guide to A Brave New World. This article here touches on a bit about what my novel was about.

Monday, November 08, 2004

"Must... pad... story...."

Seriously, this probably sould've gotten maybe 50 or 75 words of copy. But I guess the reporter had a certain amount of white space to fill and figured that all of his unsuccessful leads (it's almost funny how much people didn't want to talk to this guy) as well as a few Google searches taken together were almost as good as news:

Mr. Veal's neighbors in Athens did not return repeated telephone calls, and people in an apartment complex where he once lived said they did not recognize his name.


Hotel security workers called the Port Authority police, Mr. Coleman added.

A man named Pedro, who identified himself as the head of hotel security but refused to give his last name, adamantly denied this account.

"All the calls come down to us," he said. "Nothing came from this hotel."


A paper credited to an Andrew Veal at the University of Georgia that focuses on behavior patterns in churches is posted on the Internet.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Ella Enchanted

We finally got around to renting "Ella Enchanted" last night, a movie we'd been meaning to rent but hadn't heard a lot about. If you like watching movies, RENT THIS MOVIE. It's probably the sweetest movie, the movie with the most heart, I've ever seen. It's funny, and very, very entertaining. It won't blow your mind with profundities, to be sure, and it won't change your life, but it will entertain you. And it's sweet. And it has a lot of heart (the final shot of Cary Elwes' character convinced me that this is the movie most lacking in malice -- talking about the production of the movie itself -- I've ever seen). Which isn't to say it's boring. This movie is easily one of the top-five entertaining movies I've ever seen (right up there with "Ghostbusters").

The scene upon entering the elf village alone is worth whatever you pay to rent or Netflix it.

Anyway, however funny this movie is, it wasn't half as funny as when 'Xander turned to us, midway through the movie (which was, to be fair, about 11pm) and said "It's dark outside and I need sleep."

Friday, November 05, 2004

And yes, just in case you wondered where I stood on the "moral issue" most pressing today, Specter delendus est (thanks, Alex!).
This is the funniest thing I've read ever.

One of her multiple personalities is that of a fifteen year old poor black girl named Alice from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas. Baez decided to share with us Alice's views on the election. Amazed and horrified I watched a rich, famous, extremely white folksinger perform what can only be described as bit of minstrelsy—only the painted on blackface was missing. Alice, the black teenager from Arkansas Baez was pretending to be, spoke in a dialect so broad and thick that it would put Uncle Remus and Amos and Andy to shame. Baez' monologue was filled with phrases like, "I'se g'win ta" to do this that or the other and dropping all final "g's." Baez as Alice made statements like, "de prezident, he be a racist," and "de prezident, he got a bug fer killin'."

Link stolen mercilessly from M&M at POF.
Okay, that's it. We're not waiting for this to come out on DVD. I think 97% fresh is just about the highest rating I've seen, with the only negative reviews coming from folks who are still upset about "Iron Giant".

Thursday, November 04, 2004

If you're thinking of buying a new home in Michigan, check out this site we designed:
As a resident of Miniwillinois, (or is that New America?) I find this to be hilarious.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Tonight's very good episode of Lost impressed me yet again. While so far no episode has been as compelling as the David-Fury-penned "Walkabout" (episode 4), this one (Episode 7: "Moth") actually contained a positive scene involving Catholicism -- in a confessional, no less! I was worried when I saw the preview, that this was just going to be "tonight, on a very special episode of 'Lost'", but actually the story was quite good and you really got an appreciation for Charlie's anguish.

And, like every other character on the show they've featured so far, you begin to get the feeling (since episode four) that the horrible experience of crashing this island, with this horrible whatever on it (which really has only killed one person so far) is offering each of the characters their own unique shot at redemption.

Next week: is Sawyer really evil or what's his deal? And will we ever meet any of the 32 extras supposedly on the island with our cast of 14 principals, too?

In other news, color me gullible (though not quite "The Deep Dark Secret of M. Night Shyamalan" gullible), but tonight's episode of Ghosthunters really creeped me out, especially that weird lower-torso apparition.
So Cokie Roberts is on NPR this morning, talking about Kerry's (then imminent) defeat. They're breaking down the vote demographically and Cokie mentions that the 18-to-29-year-old vote came out very strong for Kerry. "So what happened?" asks the NPR commentator.

"There just weren't enough of them!" replies Cokie.

No kidding..

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Film-Maker Who Criticised Islam Murdered

A Dutch film-maker who received death threats after making a movie criticising the treatment of women under Islam was murdered in an Amsterdam street today.

A suspect, a 26-year-old man with dual Dutch-Moroccan nationality, was arrested after a shoot-out with officers that left him wounded, police said.


Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende called on the Dutch people to remain calm and not to jump to conclusions.

Hmmm... And what conclusions might those be?