Friday, July 4, 2008

Top 10

Having recently finished 'Mass Effect' for the Xbox 360, I began thinking that that very game might have found a way into my personal 'Top 10' best games. That in and of itself got me to thinking: what are my 'Top 10' favorite games? How has that list changed in the last few years? Here's a quick rundown.

1- The 'Thief' Series
2- Ultima VII: The Black Gate
3- System Shock 2
4- Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
5- Mass Effect
6- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
7 - CastleVania: Symphony of the Night
8- Super Mario Galaxy
9- The 'Half-Life' Series
10- Super Metroid

And, if I'd go just a bit further to 15, you'd find these games... A sort of 'honourable mention', if you will.

11- Rez
12- The 'Ratchet and Clank' series, in particular 'Up Your Arsenal' and 'Tools of Destruction'
13- Any Harmonix game (Amplitude, Guitar Hero 1 & 2, Rock Band)
14- BioShock
15- Diablo 2

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New Song

New song of mine.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wii Fit Day

Personally, I'm getting very excited about Wii Fit today. I don't know if it's because my usual online haunts are all talking about it, but I'm really anxious to give that thing a spin. I don't know if 'game' is the actual correct word for it since it's quite different from most of the stuff on the market. Maybe 'platform' might be better (yeah, ha ha, see what I did there?) Anyway, we've all seen DDR mats and Nintendo's mid 80's 'Power Pad' (if I remember correctly), but this actual seems to have all kinds of different people interested in what it might bring to the table. Anyway, it's one of the rare 'games' I've preordered at my local EB, so hopefully my son and I can pick it up tonight and start looking completely silly with it.

Aside from that, I started Mass Effect on the weekend and, so far, it's fantastic. Yes, I know, it's not quite a 'new' game, but I prefer focusing on one 'serious' game at a time in order to get the most out of it, and since I had just finished Assassin's Creed, I wanted to jump into the Mass Effect universe.

Also, my wife is completely pwning my ass at Boom Blox.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

All right, let’s get back to the good ol’ blogging grind, shall we?

I’ve been toying about in Reason about more lately and I’ve come up with a very simple little piece that’s I’m quite happy about. It’s mainly harp based, since last week fancy struck me to compose such a little track. It clocks in at just over a minute, but I like the result. Once I finish polishing it I should be able to post it somewhere.

I’m definitely in the last stretch for ‘Assassin’s Creed’ on the 360, and I’m still taking my time with it. Once I finish that, I’m either going to jump into either the first ‘Condemned’ or ‘Mass Effect’. You read that right: no ‘Grand Theft Auto IV’ just yet on the horizon. I’ll probably delve deeper into why I’m not actually interested in playing that seminal title just yet, but it’ll have to wait a bit. Also, aside from ‘Assassin’s Creed’, we’ve been playing quite a bit of ‘Mario Kart Wii’ and having an absolute blast with it. Essentially, the whole family is in on the fun, from David, to my wife and of course, myself. Chris, my oldest, hasn’t really had a chance to play much, but I have now doubt he’ll rectify that at some point. I’ve played with the wheel a bit, and while fun, I much prefer the Wiimote and Nunchuck control combo, since it feels that much more accurate. But, the wheel has the distinct advantage of being extremely easy to use, since anyone even remotely familiar one how to operate a moving vehicle will have this innate knowledge about what to do with a steering wheel when handed one. I’ve also had a bit of a chance to play with the online in the game, and even though Nintendo’s friend code concept should die a fiery death, once you push through with all the code input nonsense, the online experience is surprisingly well executed. Not too mention there’s something really fun about playing with a bunch of other people, knowing that you’re not just racing against another computer controlled opponent. And, last thing in regards to ‘Mario Kart’ for now, I recently unlocked the ability to use your ‘Mii’ likeness in the game. It’s kind of neat to see a little caricature of yourself piloting a kart down the winding Mario themed courses, but listening to that little avatar is another matter entirely. The Weeee’s and Yahoo’s coming out of that little digital representation of me sound absolutely retarded. Strangely enough, I kind of like it since it manages to make me laugh nearly every time... Go figure.

Finally, David is turning five tomorrow. We’ll be celebrating with a ‘Cars’ themed birthday cake that he chose and having a few of our acquaintances over for some dessert. I’m looking forward to it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Yeah, I know...

... I haven't posted in a while... It's just that I'm still trying to process my recent escapade to Europe and didn't want to start writing about it for fear I might not stop for a long, long time.

Now, on a totally unrelated note: 'The World Ends with You' looks like it just might be the game that gets me to try a RPG on the DS. I'll see if I can find it tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Going to London Today

What I have written on my office computer to let my coworkers know where I am, in case anyone comes by wondering:

I'm off to London and maybe France,
I remembered to pack some underpants.
It's very important to be ready,
I just hope the plane will be steady.

I'm sure I'll have fun and enjoy the sights,
I'll take lots of pictures of all the lights.
If all goes well, I shall come back
Around Apirl 21st to talk and chat.

If you're looking for me, then you're out of luck,
I'm off to Europe and don't give a... darn.

Who knows, I might have a chance to blog from London, but I wouldn't bet my life on it. :-)

Cheers all!

Monday, April 7, 2008

BattleDoctorWood: Vegas

I really have to catch up on my season premieres and finales. Last week saw the arrival of a brand new season of both Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, and I have yet to watch either of them. Plus, Torchwood also concluded its second season last week, so both my wife and I will have to commit some serious TV time in order to watch all those (plus CSI Vegas) before going off to Europe on Thrusday. Yes, I know, such a painful issue to have.

We went over to visit my mother-in-law on the weekend, and the bed we slept in was softer than a sponge. My back is still killing me today, so I'm somewhat thankful that I've been able to sit at my desk for the majority of the day. Honestly, I realize now that it might not have been the best idea to go and visit her this past weekend since the only thing I did was worry about the upcoming trip and all that needed to be accomplished before we go. That, coupled with the fact that I coulnd't do any of those things really didn't do any wonders to my mood.

In any case, one of my co-workers put up a map of France at my desk for the week in anticipation of my upcoming holiday. She's actually from France, and thought it might serve as a good idea to get me geared up for Thursday. Honestly, I don't think I need all that much help since I'm starting to get excited, but it was a sweet gesture on her part.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

We're probably going to end up at the library tonight since David 4.10's book is due, and we'll probably pick up another one for our nightly reading before bed-time. That might give me a chance to finish Guy Gavriel Kay's 'Ysabel', which has really grabbed me as of late. The book started off a little slow I found, but it was never boring. It's just that Kay has a way to build up characters and establishes the situation very well, so it's solidly rooted down and you know what you're getting into. That's why when the story really starts going, you're in for a hell of a ride. I liked his last book ('The Last Light of the Sun') but I think it was my least favorite book by him. Don't get me wrong, his worst book still stands head and shoulders above what you typically find out there in the realm of fiction, but it didn't grab me quite as much as his other works did. 'Ysabel', though, did, and still has me firmly in it's grip. I can't wait to see how it'll end, as I actually have no idea what shape the conclusion will end up taking. It's an excellent book that manages to mesh fiction and fantasy extremely well and, again something that's very common for Kay, the research into the locales and history are spot on and definitely give me a flavour of the place. I'd actually like to visit it someday thanks to this book.

On another note, I'm looking forward to 'Echochrome' for the PS3. Essentially, it looks like a puzzle / platformer type of game, where you manipulate one of those 'impossible machine' looking type things in order to make your little stick figure journey across it. I know, I'm sure that reading that description doesn't instill any type of curiosity on your part, but google it to find some videos to get a better idea of what I'm talking about. In a way, it reminds me a bit of 'Portal', since at the beginning, you're trying to wrap your head around the concept of what must happen for you to get from point A to point B, and the task itself seems almost insurmountable. However, little by little, you start to get how to manipulate the environment to get to the desired result, and what looked impossible almost looks easy in hindsight. 'Echochrome' seems to touch that vibe, and it's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Faxing Resident Umbrellas

Busy day yesterday where I didn’t have much of a chance to blog.
Today at work I’m essentially starting to looking after faxes until I leave for my trip to London next week. Typically, this is a task reserved for people who have been here at least six months or so, but a week or two after I started here, I made it a point to learn how to do so and right now, I’m the sole bearer of that particular task. It might not sound like much, but we get about two to three thousand pages of fax per day, so it can be quite the undertaking. That means I won’t be running around the building as much as usual, which actually kind of sucks, since one of the things I really enjoy about my job is that I’m constantly moving. Oh well, I can listen to my iPod if I want while sorting the faxes, so it’s not all bad.

Rented ‘Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles’ last night at the same time I picked up ‘Avatar’ at the video store and it’s pretty terrible. I have the lightgun thingy for the Wii that turns the nunchuk and controller into a crossbow looking thing, so I thought it could possibly be entertaining or fun, but it just didn’t grab me. The only positive thing I can say about it right off is that the cursor stays a heck of a lot more stable on the screen when aiming than ‘Link’s Crossbow Training’, but everything else really didn’t grab me. I got up to the first boss and promptly died, even though I was pummeling the boss pretty well and it’s life was going down by tiny increments. The big scorpion thing took three swipes at me and I was dead. Just the though of doing that over filled me with what I can only describe as an ‘ugh’ feeling, so that was pretty much all the motivation I needed to give it up. I was intending to maybe rent ‘Super Smash Bros. Brawl’, but those were sadly all out.

Oh, and on another note, when we'll be in London, we're definitely planning on checking out the London Eye and Forbidden Planet. I can't wait!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Earth Hour and Quick Reactions

Eventful weekend where lots was accomplished and I almost set fire to the house: more on that in a minute.

We managed to catch up on a bit of ‘Avatar’ over the weekend and now only have one episode left on the DVD I rented from the video store. My 360 is on its way to Microsoft as well, so hopefully I’ll see it again in a few weeks. I also managed to install some nice horizontal blinds in our bedroom with my father’s help, so now we can effectively block sunlight from most rooms. And in observance of Earth Hour which happened on Saturday, I almost set the house on fire. Let me explain...

I opened up my trusty Firefox browser on Saturday morning to check out a few news sites to be greeted with a black Google page. After shutting down Firefox and reopening it a few times, I though that my graphics drivers must be acting up, so I rebooted the system to resolve the issue. After the restart, I’m still greeted by a dark Google page, but notice a little blurb in the lower part of the page that explains why Google blacked out its page in observance of Earth Hour. Ooops, maybe I should’ve looked at the page more carefully before assuming I had a tech issue. Anyway, as I’m sure many of you know by now, on Saturday March 29th people were invited to turn off the lights between eight and nine PM in order to reduce energy consumption (incidentally, it looks like the concept paid off) So, our little family decided to participate in the little event. Between eight and nine o’clock, we turned off all the lights, lit a whole bunch of candles and even started a fire in our fireplace. It was very nice actually and we really enjoyed the soft glow that seemed to permeate the house. A little after nine once David 4.10 was in bed and sleeping, I went around and extinguished all the candles... Or so I thought.

Ten Fifteen rolls around, and my wife and I are about ten minutes into ‘Layer Cake’ (which was a very good movie, by the way). All of a sudden, the fire alarm goes off upstairs, so not wasting a second I run up to see what’s going on. The first things I notice is that there’s smoke coming from the living room: the type of smoke that seems to hug the ceiling and almost create a semi solid cloud of blue-gray. Even before I turn into the living room however, I notice the tell tale orange flicker reflecting from the surrounding walls and once I turn the corner into that common area, I see flames. My heart sank and I can recall the moment with crystal clarity. I yell ‘Fire!’ to my wife who was still downstairs and, without thinking, head directly toward the flaming mass on the floor. Once I get closer, I’m able to see that David’s Thomas the Tank Engine toys are what’s blazing and after opening the front door, I grab what I can and expel them out the front door. I have to do two or three circuits in order to throw the whole flaming mess outside in the snow, and in that very moment I didn’t care in the slightest about grabbing those fire-stricken toys in my bare hand and throwing them outside: only later did I realize that I burnt my hand due to the flames and possibly some acid which leaked out of some batteries. In any case, with the plastic toys outside, I stomp out the small remaining flame with my foot and ensure that nothing else is ablaze. My wife then arrives with the fire extinguisher. I look at her, and tell her that it doesn’t seem like we need that thing any longer, but the gesture is very appreciated. Satisfied by how things look in the living room, I head to the front door and look at the still flaming mess in the snow. I notice the neighbor in front peaking through the window, and honestly they must be wondering as to why we have a small bonfire in front of our house. I was tempted to wave and ask them if they had any marshmallows, but really I just wanted to put the fire out, so I go to the kitchen, fill a pot up with water and dump it on the remains of Thomas and Friends. After scooping some more snow onto the remains of the fire, I can finally be confident that it’s extinguished. Meanwhile, my wife found that a suspended candelabra we have leaked some hot wax onto the toys, sparking the fire. If the was had simply dripped onto the hardwood floor, we would’ve had a puddle of solid wax to clean up in the morning, but no fire. The plastic toys were just in the perfect spot in this case, which is how the blaze started. After the ordeal, I went to check on David to find him soundly asleep in his bed. I therefore noted that he probably wouldn’t be the one leading the family out of the house if the whole thing ever caught fire.

This made me realize a few things: you never know how you’re going to react to harsh and stressful situations until you’re right in the middle of them, and I’m quite happy with my quick reaction. Some part of my brain must have gauged that I was capable of expelling the flaming toys outside and that the situation was not yet out of control, since before I even had any rational thoughts as to what to do, I was already physically moving to eliminate the threat to the house. Also, the now incinerated toys in question were just about a foot away from some cotton drapes, and my thinking is that if an extra 30 seconds or so had gone by before I was able to intervene, those might have caught fire and made the situation that much more serious.

On Sunday, we spent a good chunk of the morning cleaning, since the fire had spread some black soot all across the first floor. So you know those blinds I had just finished installing the day before? Every blade had to be wiped, since some black dust had found it’s way on literally every flat surface on the first floor. Needless to say, our house is now very clean.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On Writing

I really have to get back to writing my story... I more or less abandoned it late January when my son got sick, since I couldn’t really sit in front of the computer and ask him politely not to throw up for a few minutes while daddy did his writing. Before that, I had committed myself to a set schedule of writing at least three hundred words a day and I was doing pretty well. Obviously, for many writers, three hundred words a day must seem like a cakewalk, but I was going for consistency more than actual quantity of words put to paper. In a way, that’s actually one of the reasons I started this blog, in order to ensure that I would write at least a little something everyday. However, lately I’ve been thinking back to Diana Winters and I’d like to get back to telling her story, so I think I’ll set myself down in front of the keyboard at home tonight and bang out those three hundred. Sometimes even writing that much is like pulling teeth, and I’m anticipating being a bit rusty when I start again.

On another note, I’m still waiting for my Xbox 360 ‘coffin’ to show up from Purolator. I made the call on Monday, and even though they did specify that it could take two to three business days to get to me, I’ll give them until Monday before I make another call. Monday being a holiday up here in Canada probably didn’t help things, so I’ll accord the benefit of the doubt this time.

Last night, the missus and I ended up watching another episode of ‘Avatar’ and the most recent ‘Ghost Hunters’. Avatar continues to be excellent, and nothing much happened in episode three of the fourth season of with Grant and Jason, but hey: not all places they investigate can be haunted up the ying-yang, now can they?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rickrolling Rick

The LA Times Blog has an interview up with Rick Astley about 'rickrolling' and it's pretty cute. Looks like the guy has a good sense of humour about the whole concept, even though he clearly has the right to find it a bit strange. If you're not up as to what a 'rickroll' is, there's a good description of the meme on that site.

On an unrelated note, it looks like we might have an after school daycare pretty much secured for David 4.10 this coming fall. A few months back, I was remiss to find out that getting my son a spot in a daycare was going to be difficult, since literally any place I contacted had a full waiting list. I did what I could and essentially put him on a few different lists, but when my wife dropped him off to the Behavioural Center this morning, she had a chance to talk with one of the ladies that works there and found out that they were opening a full and after school daycare within the center soon enough! He's been going to the center for about a month now, and it really has helped in bringing him out of his shell, so going to a full time daycare at that very center until school starts could be a huge positive for all of us. Anyway, we'll see what happens in the future, but I do have a good feeling about this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Portals Invade Toronto!

Apparently, Bloor street in downtown Toronto has been taken over by Portals. I like their execution, and if you’re not familiar with Portal, you owe it to yourself to check it out: it’s a fantastic puzzle game put together by Valve that manages to weave a very interesting narrative where you least expect. Of course, any gamer worth his salt has heard the memes at this point (‘The cake is a lie’), but Portal still stands tall as a concept that could not have been executed in any other medium. You hear every so often how certain games attempt to mimic the cinematic structure in order to either be taken more seriously or somehow gain credibility. That’s missing the point, whereas something like Portal couldn’t be effectively replicated in any other medium. That in and of itself does more to advance the art form than a lot of other games. However, I don’t want to come off as arrogant or know-it-all sounding here, since so many different things can be accomplished with the medium. It’s just, when it comes to Portal, the game was so close to being a perfect experience that it will be etched in many different memories for a long time to come, I believe.

I’m still trying to get ‘Avatar’ to stream to my PS3, but for some reason I always get a ‘Data Type not Supported’ error when I’m trying to watch that on my system. Other AVI files of the DivX and xvid persuasion work fine, but for some reason ‘Avatar’ is not playing friendly. And since my Xbox 360 is out of commission, I can’t include it in my media equation. I’m not really interested in converting the files to another format, so I think I’m just going to drop by the video store tonight and see if I can pick up the DVD’s.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Red Ringed Avatars

Four day weekends are awesome, that’s the realization I came to this morning as I was driving to work. You know: work, that place they pay you to go? I realized that I wasn’t in any form dreading going to work. You know, how sometimes, even though you like your job, getting yourself to your place of employment seems like a difficult chore? Well, I felt none of that this morning: instead, I felt refreshed and ready to get some work done. Honestly, they should legislate four day weekends and make it a law or something.

On a not so positive note, my Xbox 360 died over the weekend. It essentially went belly up with the dreaded red ring of death and I’m already in the process of getting it replaced. This is the second Xbox 360 to do this to me, and I know I’m not alone with this problem. On the plus side, the Microsoft rep I spoke with over the phone last night was extremely helpful, and the time it took from initiating the call to hanging up with a resolution was eight minutes (as per the little clock thing on my phone). No hold times, no BS, I just told him what the issue was, followed a few basic troubleshooting steps (to help him confirm that the issue was with the box and not the power supply) and away I went. I thanked him for his help, and noted that even though this call wasn’t made under the best of circumstances (an expensive piece of hardware just failed? ALRIGHT!!!), he managed to make the process friendly and efficient. When my first Xbox died, the repair process actually only took a few days, but in this case I was informed that the waiting time was extended to about two to three weeks. It’s a good thing that the PS3 can stream video as well, or else I’d be out of my media box since I primarily use my 360 for that task. It’s a shame the 360 has such a reliability issue, since it has a fantastic lineup of games. Hopefully the repaired console will endure longer than these last two, but at least Microsoft is addressing the issue with the extended warranty and all. Needless to say, I will not be getting my Boston on in Rock Band today, as Harmonix is realizing six tracks by the aforementioned band for the game. It’ll have to wait until I get my 360 back.

Moving along, my wife and I started watching ‘Avatar - The Last Airbender’ last week. I decided to check it out on the recommendation from the guys at the Totally Rad Show, and it’s way better than it has any right to be. Essentially, it looks like an anime from the Land of the Rising Sun, but is actually made by Nickelodeon, so it’s an American made show. On the surface, it looks very kiddy and I wasn’t all that interested in checking it out, but Jeff, Dan and Alex all seemed to like it, so I figured I’d give it a go. In a way, it works similarly to some of Pixar’s work, meaning that kids will get a kick out of it, but it also functions on another level to provide enjoyment for adults as well. The story is actually very interesting and develops well from one episode to another, and there’s actually interesting character development, which really surprised and pleased me. I think Alex on the Totally Rad Show had a good way of explaining the show, and it sounded similar to this: when you recall all those shows from your childhood, like Transformers, Voltron, Thundercats, GI Joe and more, and remember how awesome they were, but then actually go and watch them, you realize how horribly written and they were. Avatar is like a show you remember from your childhood being awesome, watching it now as an adult and it’s still awesome. I think that manages to capture the feeling about the show very well and I think any lovers of fantasy and adventure would benefit by giving the show a go.

Countdown notice: 16 days to London, baby.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

French Snow and Adventures!

Yes, I did say 'French Snow'... more on that in a bit.

David 4.10 and I went for a little walk to the local video store last night. Funny how a little walk that can take about five to ten minutes by myself can turn into a half hour hike with a four year old! Anyway, we had fun throwing snow at each other and picking up random branches at desiccating imaginary snow-monsters, so the time it took to walk there was definitely put to good use. So we were having all kinds of fun, and I noticed something interesting when David is talking: certain words coming out of his mouth are heavily accented the same way I speak. You may think that statement requires and obvious ‘duh!’, but I was still both floored and pleased by that. You see, since French is the primary language we speak at home and I’m essentially a relocated Quebecer, I haven’t yet assimilated the local accent, even after 15 years or so. So as David and I were talking about the snow (which is ‘neige’ in French), I noticed that he repeated that word exactly like I say it and not like the locals pronounce it. It’s really difficult to describe how different the word actually sounds to a non-French speaker, but the best explanation I can come up with is that this eastern side of the country pronounces the word much more softly than their southern Quebec counterparts: there’s definitely an emphasis put on the middle syllable that’s lacking here with the general population. Not that one pronunciation is better than the other or anything, it’s just a neat little detail I hadn’t noticed before, and I thought it was cool how David had adapted (for the moment anyway) my method of saying that particular word in comparison to what he might here from other people around him.

So we went to the video store and David was extremely pleased to pick up a Scooby-Doo DVD, which we watched together for a bit before his bath time last evening. Since I finished ‘Ratchet & Clank Future’ over the weekend (more on that in a bit) and I was interested in renting something else for the PS3. I ended up checking out ‘Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune’. I played for about half an hour last night and here are my quick impressions:

1 - It’s gorgeous: Needless to say that the PS3 can adeptly push pixels, but the art direction, animation and general look of the game is excellent.

2 - Excellent Pacing: Granted, I’m not very far in the game, but the pacing so far is excellent and really makes me want to push forward and play some more. Personally, this definitely seems due to the intuitive level design and writing, which I bring up in point number 3.

3 - Good Writing: I’ve heard arguments that, taken on its own, the writing for the game is the equivalent of what you’d find in an airport paperback novel. It sounds about right in my book, since it’s well know that most videogames aren’t all that big on writing, so the fact that this game really had some thought going into the story and the characters does put it above much of the mediocrity that make up the medium. The main character, Nathan Drake, comes across as an interesting mix of one third Indiana Jones mixed in with two thirds of Malcolm Reynolds, and it comes across well on the screen due to his dialogue and his actual animation. From what I’ve seen so far, I’m impressed.

So yes I rented the game, but I just found it used locally online for peanuts, so I think I’ll end up buying this one in order to see properly through to the end.

Finally, even though I mentioned finishing Ratchet & Clank earlier, I’m far from done with the game. You see, like every other Ratchet & Clank game, once you complete it for that first time, you unlock a ‘challenge’ mode, where the enemies are tougher and you take more damage as you get hit. But that’s not really what’s so compelling: what manages to hook me into a second go at the game (something I do very rarely) is that you get the opportunity to continually upgrade your weapons as you go. It might not seem like much, but that little mechanic has managed to ensnare me to do the game over one more time, and seeing the bolts fly all over the screen has this little ‘je ne sais quoi’ that I find oh so satisfying.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Addedum: List Of Actual Subtitles Used In Films Made In Hong Kong

Just too good not to share...

I am damn unsatisfied to be killed in this way.

Fatty, you with your thick face have hurt my instep.

Gun wounds again?

Same old rules: no eyes, no groin.

A normal person wouldn't steal pituitaries.

Damn, I'll burn you into a BBQ chicken!

Take my advice, or I'll spank you without pants.

Who gave you the nerve to get killed here?

Quiet or I'll blow your throat up.

You always use violence. I should've ordered glutinous rice chicken.

I'll fire aimlessly if you don't come out!

You daring lousy guy.

Beat him out of recognizable shape!

I have been scared shitless too much lately.

I got knife scars more than the number of your leg's hair!

Beware! Your bones are going to be disconnected.

The bullets inside are very hot. Why do I feel so cold?

How can you use my intestines as a gift?

This will be of fine service for you, you bag of the scum. I am sure you will not mind that I remove your manhoods and leave them out on the dessert flour for your aunts to eat.

Yah-hah, evil spider woman! I have captured you by the short rabbits and can now deliver you violently to your gynecologist for a thorough extermination.

Greetings, large black person. Let us not forget to form a team up together and go into the country to inflict the pain of our karate feets on some ass of the giant lizard person.

From .

Rock Band Post #632

Last week, the Rock Band Downloadable Content released was from three acts I was relatively unfamiliar with: Paramore, Serj Tankian & Black Tide. These songs were released for 99 cents each, so it’s a good way to get people to download something they might not be familiar with. I know of Serj, since he’s the lead singer for System of a Down and, even though his material is not my cup of tea, I can recognize that some of his music might be a good fit for Rock Band. I then checked out the video for Black Tide’s ‘Shockwave’ on You Tube and didn’t like it at all. Therefore, I wasn’t holding out much hope for Paramore’s ‘CrushCrushCrush’. The video starts out in the desert and immediately kicks off with a hooky guitar line and a very solid female vocal performance. Anyway, fast forward three minutes and I just knew I would be downloading this song in Rock Band: it’s extremely catchy! Nothing absolutely stunning or innovative with the song, just some memorable riffs with some very catchy hooks. My gorgeous wife and I played the song through on Sunday and it translates extremely well to the game, which prompted me to pick up their album last night from their label’s website. After listening to a few more tracks from ‘Riot!’ this morning, I can safely attest that the rest of the album definitely keeps up with the infectious vibe from ‘CrushCrushCrush’: the songs are straightforward, melodic, and as for away from presumptuous as you can get. Both the main singer (Hayley Williams) and the guitarist (Josh Farro) take care of the primary song-writing duties, and there’s something absolutely genuine and honest that comes through that I can’t quite put my finger on. I guess you could call their style ‘Power Pop’ or ‘Punk Pop’ or any other of those catchy categories, but the bottom line is that from the strength I’ve seen of this second album of theirs, they’re an act to watch. I guess if you want an idea what they sound like, think Kelly Clarkson mixed with some earlier No Doubt (minus the ska). Anyway, they’re worth a listen.

The heating issue has been resolved thanks to my ever so helpful father: he managed to replace the thermostat downstairs and replaced a valve in the heating system that we suspected was acting up. We’re just happy we can control the temperature downstairs again, restoring that little God-complex I enjoy so much when it comes to modifying the indoor weather.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Wrong on so many levels...

... but yet oh so funny!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Fun

Well, we’ve been experiencing some issues with our home heating as of late: it looks like our downstairs thermostat would rather set its temperature to ‘Sweltering Rainforest’ instead of ‘Refreshing Mountain’. Needless to say, I’ll be looking for a new thermostat on the weekend and see if I can replace the current defective one. My plan is to do so without getting electrocuted but, as we all know, plans change.

Today is actually a bit slow at work: all my filing is taken care of, I’ve revised a few documents here and there for the rest of the team and I’ve read up on the intranet quite a bit. I’m actually thinking of getting my Potato Heads to fight and placing money on who will win. Obviously, my money is on Spud Vader, but you don’t necessarily want to count out Mr. Spud Trooper and his intergalactic potato masher. Nothing says ‘Bite Me’ like a potato masher to the face.

Aside from that, our little familial unit ventured out to the library yesterday, and we all had some good fun. Honestly, I think my wife and I had more fun browsing the kids section more than David 4.10 did! It was almost like a trip down memory lane, coming across comic I’d read as a child and seeing familiar animated faces. Anyway, we got David his very own little library card and checked him out a book for last night’s bedtime reading. I also came across a whole whack of books that interested me, so I think that the next time we go back to the library, I’ll have to get myself a card and check a few of them out (like Timothy Zahn’s ‘Outbound Flight’, for example).

Both SV and I are thinking of renting a movie during the weekend. Mind you, we have quite a few movies at home we haven’t seen yet that we picked up on the cheap once, but I’m anxious to put our Blu-Ray player through its paces with an actual feature film. I’ve been jonesing to see ‘Across the Universe’, so that gets my vote for what we can watch during the weekend. We’ll see how that goes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Cars and Assassins

We picked up our ‘new’ car last night and drove it home. My wife is the lucky one who drove it to work this morning since I kept the SUV; they’re calling for a possibility of snow, so I didn’t want to take any chances. Anyway, if it’s nice tomorrow, I’ll see if I can put it through it’s paces on the highway. Mind you, I don’t have any lofty goals or anything: after all, the car is only a 1997 Taurus and not a Ducati, therefore 0-60 within 3 seconds is not really in the picture. 0-60 in about 30 seconds though is.

I played a bit more of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ last night and I’m still enjoying it. I finished up a few more of the investigations which set up my second assassination in Damascus, so I think I’m a bit more than halfway. Playing maybe half an hour to an hour here and there is truly the ideal way to enjoy the game, since even though it’s been widely derided for its repetition, when spread out I find it works quite well. I can definitely see how one could get very tired of the mission
objectives in it however by trying to grind through it, but I really don’t think the game is meant to be consumed at such. Gabe from Penny Arcade had a posting similar to this a few months back in regards to how reviewers, whom are typically on very short deadlines, didn’t get to enjoy the experience as much as someone who’s leisurely going through the game might. I completely agree with his opinion in regards to this and since I’m by no means rushing through ‘Assassin’s Creed’, I’m having a good time with it. However, the specter of ‘Mass Effect’ is looming on the horizon, just waiting until I finish ‘Assassin’s Creed’ to be taken on.

Apparently, David 4.10 was kind of tired when coming out of the ‘little school’ this morning, as per my mother who picked him up there. It’s very possible that he took a nap at the day-care during the day and, if he’s up for it, tonight I’m thinking of bringing him to the library so he can get his very own library card. I can just picture him: all proud and checking out a book for tonight’s bedtime reading. Either ‘Salem’s Lot’ or ‘The Exorcist’ would be a good choice, but we’ll see what this little four year old chooses.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

As any intrepid reader might have deduced: yesterday was a busy day. So busy in fact that I didn't get a chance to post (collective gasp! from the crowd). Here’s a brief rundown of my day yesterday:

1 - Internal clock still frakked because of the time change. Getting up when ‘the crack of dawn’ is still in bed is hard.

2 - Work was hectic, which is good, really, since the day flew right by. Still though, my brain was tired at the end of the night.

B - Visited a tailor to get my Armani suit (that I bought of eBay) adjusted for my upcoming trip to London.

%&@! - Drove all over to go pick up the two kids and the wife, which segue’s well into my next point...

vanilla - Bought a new used car. We’re now going to be a 2 family vehicle, so it should alleviate point number %&@!. This particular point caused much further driving around on my part to give the seller a small deposit on the car. I’ll be able to pay him fully later and then park our two cars in the driveway tonight. Two Ford’s as well.. Weird!

Aside from that, SV and I managed to catch a little more of ‘Planet Earth’ last night and it truly is a smashing documentary. It really shows off the Blu Ray capabilities of the PS3 very well since the visuals are just stunning in their clarity, and it’s just interesting all around. I also get the impression that we’re also well on our way to finishing ‘Ratchet & Clank Future’. Granted, we’ve only had the game for over a week, but we’ve played every night for at least an hour for that same period of time. Of course, I’ll definitely be playing it over again to further upgrade all the weapons, so you could say that we still have a long way to go and not by entirely wrong. So yeah, that was our evening in a nutshell, and both SV and I are happy that our oldest son is back from his trip to Vancouver.

He definitely needs a shave though. :-/

Sting in a Chart

Friday, March 7, 2008

Reading the wiki for Wall-E, I learned something that makes complete sense now that I think of it. "Andrew Stanton [the movie's director] pitched the story to Ben Burtt who signed on to do the sound design. There is little traditional dialogue in the film; Stanton joked, 'I’m basically making R2-D2: The Movie'" Something that stood out to me with Wall-E was his manner of 'speaking', if you will: from what I've seen in the previews, it's not dialogue in any way, shape or form and was closer to a favorite Star Wars astromech droid. Learning that Ben Burtt is doing the sound design is AWESOME!

I'm with Stupid?

A very interesting article from Matthew Sakey discussing how a book named ‘The Age of American Unreason’ by Susan Jacoby essentially blames the "fast, video-oriented culture" in regards to the United-States’ intellectual downward spiral. Let’s be clear, she doesn’t put the onus specifically on games for causing America’s declining IQ, but does point towards it as being a cause. Matt goes on to share that he believes the very opposite to be true, since ‘Videogames engage three senses simultaneously, and the brain is collating, prioritizing, interpreting and acting on information at a staggering rate’. When you think about it, that’s absolutely true... And we do this for fun: go figure! In any case, it’s worth a read.

Friday is here so that means it’s time for some drunken debauchery!

Actually, no, I don’t mean that and please don’t think for a second that I was serious (although the debauchery part does sound mildly interesting now that I think about it). I was talking to some friends at lunch how David 4.10 is really looking forward to Pixar’s Wall-E, which will be coming to theaters later this year. One of them asked if David had seen ‘Robots’, and all of a sudden I had a light-bulb moment: both my wife and I wanted to see it years ago when it was initially released, but never got around to it and it had since completely left our minds (well, mine anyway). She mentioned this movie and, of course, I think David would absolutely love it, so I’ll be dropping by Future Shop later on today and see if I can find it. That, and possibly ‘Planet Earth’ on BluRay, since I’ve been dying to see that.

And now, during a lull in the workflow, we’re discussing old kid shows: Mr. Dressup, Romper Room (the bastards never said my name), The Friendly Giant and Fred Penner’s Place, just to name a few. One of the girls here mentioned a show she recalls where someone had a ‘big bag of tricks’... That doesn’t ring a bell to me, and assuming it’s not a porn movie or something, I’d be curious to find out what it is.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Did a lot of driving around last night since my better two-thirds had an appointment to get her hair cut. Of course, coming out of the hairdressers, she looked like her smashing usual self, which had me inwardly congratulating myself on how of a lucky man I am. The rest of the evening was relatively quiet, since when we got back home it was already time to give David 4.10 his bath.

I’m currently reading ‘Ysabel’ from Guy Gavriel Kay. For anyone not familiar with that author, I would wholeheartedly recommend looking him up. Some of his earlier works definitely contained a fantasy bent, but his most recent books read more like historical fiction than anything else. His prose is always impressive and eloquent and flows gently through your mind, never feeling forced or ‘dumbed-down’. His characters very much leap from the page, and he’s only become better at painting these vivid people over the years and infusing them with excellent and humourous dialogue. His latest work is a departure though, since it starts off in Aix, France during a present day timeline and focuses on a teenager named Ned, who is accompanying his father (professional photographer Ed Marriner) and his crew during a photo shoot of ancient cathedrals and churches. As usual, it’s extremely well written and compelling, and makes me ask myself why I waited so long to read it, since it had been sitting on my shelf for a few months.

Anyway, it’s a good read so far and it’s always a good sign when it leaves me wanting more.
I didn’t get much of a chance to put in more time in Ratchet & Clank Future last night, so hopefully tonight I’ll have the opportunity to continue. David was more interested in Katamari Damacy last night, so we played that for a bit, but even that didn’t last all too long. After he went to bed, I initiated my wife to the ‘Totally Rad Show’ which I really like. I don’t think I could’ve picked a worst first episode to watch with her, since even though it was good, it was just so long that it felt like it dragged on and on. Typically, their shows clock in at about 45 minutes or so, but this one was 66 minutes in total, which was quite on the long side if you ask me. Granted, it was their 50th episode, but still, after a while it just dragged on long enough.

On another note, it looks like the movie industry had a record year in 2007, which really goes against their outcry about how piracy is killing their business model. I mean, how can we possibly take any of the MPAA’s claims seriously at this point when they ended up making 9.63 BILLION in 2007: a 5.4% increase over last year. Now that more and more people have high-speed cable or DSL connections, you’d think that we just might start to see a decline in regards to the amount of money they’re taking in, but that’s clearly not the case. Ars Technica has an interesting article on the subject, but it just fascinates me and I can’t wait to see how the Motion Picture Association of America will spin this little tidbit in order to make themselves look like the victims again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

He dwelled in the underground cavernous depths of his own emptiness. Over time, his eyes adjusted to the darkness that, even though next to no light made it in his subterranean refuge, he could still see quite clearly. He didn't know how his vision had adjusted nor was he all that thankful of the phenomenon, he just took the condition as it was. He had also adapted to the soundless void that was his new home, and was surprised to discover how silence had its own very distinctive timber. His breath would often echo back to him, creating an artificial sonata of company, which then occasionally caused him to bear his teeth toward the reverberating sound. He felt silly for doing so, but only momentarily, since the realization of his lonely and desired reality was never too far away. However, his isolation changed one day after he heard her voice. At first, he firmly believe he was going mad, since he had prided himself on being perfectly alone in his refuge and had gone to great lengths to secure it. However, when the seemingly distant, hushed voice didn't stop after many concurrent hours, he started crawling on all fours in every direction to attempt to isolate it. To further cement his relative sanity, it sounded like the voice was humming, or signing a tune he had never heard. He didn't like it, but there was a definite allure to the chant he couldn't deny. According to his ears, it was coming from further down. Since time could not be specifically measured here, he had no idea how long the signing went on. He couldn't sleep because all he could focus on was the voice. Covering his ears yielded no relief, since the crystaline song seem to penetrate his ears and grate at his brain. He made a decision: he would seek out the source and the voice and silence it. Whatever it takes.

And that is why I shouldn't drink to much coffee during the day! Wheee!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

NIN / TV / Dump

Last word for now on the new Nine Inch Nails album: it’s awesome. If you, dear reader, actually have any interest in music at all, spend the $5 and get ‘Ghosts I-IV’; for the price of a coffee at Starbucks, you get two hours of music! You cannot lose, period.

Anyway, they did what was called a ‘File Dump’ here at work last Friday. What this meant was that, as of noon last Friday, no files moved whatsoever until every file’s location was essentially recorded in the system. On a more personal level, what this meant for me is that I had next to nothing to do until all the files resumed their typical movements. That might not make much sense right off, but when you consider that my job is to get files from one point to another, then you might start seeing how my workflow level was very much minimized. The normal file movement resumed yesterday afternoon, so as of today everything was pretty much back to normal. Which is good, since there’s nothing I hate more than having nothing to do at work... Actually, that’s not true, there are a lot of things I hate more, but you get the idea right?

On a different note, TV is pissing me off lately: there’s really nothing to watch. Normally, my wife and I seek out new TV shows to watch or catch up on stuff we could have missed, but lately I’ve even lost the motivation to do that. We recently finished the second season of ‘Project Runway’, and I really enjoyed that, so I’m thinking we’ll be jumping into season 3 of that show much sooner than later. The season / half-season of the ‘Sarah Conner Chronicles’ concluded last night, so at least I know we’ve got that waiting for us on the DVR. Plus, ‘Torchwood’ is still going strong which, if I remember correctly, will be followed by Doctor Who sometime in March. Anyway, it’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things, but I at least wanted to get it out there.

Oh, and ‘Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction’ is all kinds of awesome.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ghosts I-IV, Snow!

Mr. Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) wrote a little tease on his website on February 16th 2008: ‘Two Weeks’. That’s it: that’s all he had written. Of course, among Nine Inch Nails fans, these two words ignited 14 days of speculation as to what that two weeks notice was pointing towards. Some guesses ranged from a complete website redesign, to a new tour announcement, and some even went so far as guessing that Reznor would be getting married on that day. Anyway, last night, all was made clear: Reznor released a brand new album available for immediate purchase and download on his site ( The entirely instrumental album was apparently recorded and mixed last fall during a ten week period and marks a departure from typical Nine Inch Nails fare. I remember reading an interview with Reznor a few years back expressing how he was interested in making a ‘rainy day’ type of record, which I think this might just be. I managed to listen to the first three tracks or so on my way to work this morning, and it’s really quite good. There are 36 tracks in all spanning from Ghost I to Ghost IV, so in reality you could look at the album as having four separate movements. Anyway, I’m glad to see Trent do something so different, and I’m quite positive this has something to do with his newfound freedom from the big record labels, considering he’s now an indy artist. The album will apparently also see a physical release in stores sometime in early April, but come on: $5 for two hours of music from Trent Reznor is a no-brainer, and I was happy to support the artist directly in his endeavors.

Anyway, had a good weekend with lots of snow shoveling involved. David 4.10, my gorgeous wife and I ventured out into the thigh high snow yesterday during the late morning to take on the white beast that fell to Earth. It’s still stuns me from time to time how WHITE everything is after a snow storm: opening that door to be greeted by vistas of pure white manages to make my eyes water. Or maybe I was just crying because of all the snow I had to shovel... the jury is still out on that one. David was a fantastic help, helping to transfer snow from one snow bank to another with his little green shovel. After a while though, he grew bored of that (don’t we all) and decided to just ‘accidentally’ fall in the snow... Repeatedly. It seemed like a good idea so I did the same. After taming the white beast, we retired inside to make a lunch fit for kings and queens only to see the snowplow leave a brand new snow-bank in our front entrance, which further confirms my theory that those plow drivers have a GPS like homing system that points them in the direction of freshly shoveled driveways.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Torchwood, Brother Odd and Rocking

Torchwood just keeps getting better and better this season. I mean, the season started off with a bang and it really hasn’t let up. My wife and I caught ‘Dead Man Walking’ last night and, needless to say, we enjoyed it. For some reason, I get the distinct impression that everything we’ve seen so far during this season is building towards something: there’s definitely some momentum there that wasn’t present during the first season. Anyway, it definitely makes for some good escapist television.

I also started reading ‘Brother Odd’ by Dean Koontz not too long ago after finishing ‘Industrial Magic’ by Kelley Armstrong and, in keeping along with typical Koontz fare as of late, this one is yet another engrossing page turner. It’s the 3rd book with Odd Thomas as the main character and I’m glad to see him again. The last book by Koontz I read, ‘Life Expectancy’, was absolutely fantastic: it was funny without actually being funny, which sounds odd when I write it like that. What I mean by that is that the characters in ‘Life Expectancy’ were sometimes put in very tense and difficult situations, but their reactions to said situations were often laugh out loud funny! You honestly couldn’t believe at times that you were laughing through the hardships the characters were enduring, but there you go. Well, all that to say that ‘Brother Odd’ is definitely NOT in the same vein as ‘Life Expectancy’. Don’t get me wrong, some of Koontz’s trademark wit is still very much present, but there’s just this hanging feeling of dread to the narrative... (not that I’d blame Odd for feeling that way with everything that has happened to him, but I digress). It still makes for a captivating read though, and further cements Koontz, in my mind, as one of the most capable character writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

Also, today is the day that the Nine Inch Nails DLC is released for ‘Rock Band’, so I very much look forward to getting home tonight and rocking through ‘The Collector’, ‘March of the Pigs’ and ‘The Perfect Drug’. Mind you, I’m thinking that my arms might fall off if I attempt the latter on drums, but in the name of rock, it just might be worth it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stardust, Falcon's and cars

You mean I have to take two days off before the end of March or else I lose those? Ok, if you insist... I’ll just have to sacrifice myself. So, in other words: I’m liking working for the government.

I heard David 4.9 rustling in his bed this morning around 5:30 and couldn’t get myself back to sleep after that. This literal wake-up call acted as a reminder NOT to put big toys by his bed when he goes down for the evening, since the plastic on his Millennium Falcon takes on amazingly loud characteristics in the early morning throughout the house. It very much sounded like he was conducting a thorough search for contraband spices on the Falcon, and I wasn’t very interested in his findings that early in the morning. Needless to say, today feels a bit off.

The search for a used car continues. I had the opportunity to test drive a 1995 Elantra over the weekend that someone was trying to sell, and even though the car handled pretty well, there were patches of ruse on it that were worrisome. The price ($1200) was extremely modest, but I didn’t see the point of being a vehicle that could possibly be beyond repair if anything happened. Essentially, upon opening the hood, you could see a few holes being poked through where the shock support is. Eventually, you’d probably hit a pot hole the wrong way and the shock absorber could very well possibly come right through the hood: not a good situation to be in with little recourse in repairing the vehicle. So, we’re still looking for that second car.

Lastly, my wife and I watched ‘Stardust’ last night. It captured the feel of Neil Gaiman’s book very well and was a very cute movie. I had heard it compared to ‘The Princess Bride’, and really the only thing it shares with that movie is a whimsical fantasy setting and some well done humour. I don’t think it will become a classic such as the aforementioned Princess Bride, but it was entertaining none the less. We actually rented it through Xbox Live and went for the HD version, which did look markedly better than a standard DVD: the colors were gorgeous and certain details seemed to ‘pop’ more. Of course, the movie was just shy of 6 gigs to download, so it definitely took a few hours to get the whole film, but if you plan a few hours ahead, I found the experience very convenient. Obviously, the film must be heavily compressed in order to fit under the 6 gig mark, since I believe HD-DVD’s and Blu Ray movies take up a heck of a lot more space. I’d be interested to compare the downloaded film quality and the physical disc based version... Maybe I’ll google that later today.

Friday, February 22, 2008

You know you’ve been having a few busy days when:

1 - You don’t have the chance to update the blog for 2 days straight.

2 - You actually start forgetting things you’ve done during the morning

3 - You go to bed at 9:15 PM.

It’s just been crazy at work for the last few days and I literally have not seen the days go by. It’s like I get in to work at 8AM, sit down at my desk to go through some files, look up at the clock and it’s break time. Take a little break, come back at my desk to go through some more files and run those to the correct locations if need be, then first thing I know, it’s freakin’ lunch time. I return from my meal and go over some faxes, and it’s time for yet another break before I have time to seemingly blink. Then, it’s 4PM and time to go home. What is that about? Don’t mind me, I’m not really complaining, it’s just that I’m not used to the days flying by so quickly. That, and I walk so much during my workday that I feel I should strap a little paper number to my back and scream "I WIN!" every time I leave work, but that’s just me.

I still need to find a second car... I’ve got a few spotted off Kijiji that I might look into, but honestly I’m not looking to spend much more than $3000 on an additional vehicle. Hopefully we can score one ASAP in order to make our lives that much easier.

Tonight, I’m committing to staying up late: oh yeah, 10 PM for this night owl, baby.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Scorcho Type Love?

New Rock Band songs on the download horizon today: ‘Sex Type Thing’ by Stone Temple Pilots, ‘El Scorcho’ by Weezer and ‘Why Do You Love Me’ by Garbage. The Garbage tune is a shoe in for me and I’ll definitely download that one tonight, but I wasn’t familiar with the two other songs. Actually, scratch that: I didn’t think I knew ‘Sex Type Thing’, but upon checking the video out on You Tube, I definitely have a passing familiarity with it even though I couldn’t place the title. ‘El Scorcho’ is new to me though and I’m not that sure if I like it, so that one falls in the ‘pass’ category for me.

The new job is going well: I’m starting to see a lot more of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff and gather a better understanding as to how the department functions. Plus, I’m voluntarily taking on more stuff, so the day just flies right by at this point since I’m keeping myself much more occupied. The fact that the workday is from eight to four definitely helps as well though: I was used to being at my former workplace for eight and a half hours a day and the fact that I’m here half an hour less a day makes one heck of a difference. Initially, I didn’t think it would be to big of a deal, but it really does change the flow to the whole day. I like it. Tomorrow is payday, so I’ll also get to see what kind of cash influx I can expect in the future.

Recently, my wife has started watching ‘Project Runway’, and we’re presently making our way through Season 2. I have next to no knowledge in regards to the fashion industry, but watching this show is quite entertaining. I typically don’t enjoy reality shows such as Survivor, Big Brother and the like, but I enjoy ‘Project Runway’ because the amount of backstabbing, whining and bitching is kept at a minimum and the focus is on creative people being creative. That’s always been something that fascinates me, be it in regards to writers, movie directors, musicians, painters, game designers, what have you: I find something magical about the creative process these people go through. Watching these designers come up with a concept and then execute it to the best of their ability intrigues me, and I think that’s what keeps me entertained with this show.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Indiana Jones and Lost Bacon Press

The cat decided we had slept enough around 5 o’clock this morning, causing me to consider what feline stew might taste like. No need to alert PETA right away though, since I was way too lazy to get some water boiling at 5 AM. I might sauté him tomorrow though if this keeps up.

I saw the new Indiana Jones trailer over the weekend, and it’s uniformly excellent! It actually prompted me to go and pick up the DVD set of the prior movies and we managed to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on Saturday night. Talk about a movie that aged well: it’s still exciting, funny and a blast to watch. Harrison Ford once talked about the differences between Indy and Han Solo, and being the Star Wars nut that I am, I was definitely able to see his opinion when watching Raiders. You see, Ford believes that one of the main differences between the characters is that Han was an extremely capable smuggler: he was an excellent pilot, somewhat of a rogue and impulsive. Indy, on the other hand, got in way over his head on multiple occasions and barely managed to make it out alive during several instances, owing his survival to luck (primarily) and fighting dirty. Indy didn’t have the sharp reflexes or ingenuity of Solo, so he had to make due with what he had at his disposal. This concept comes right through upon viewing Raiders with that in mind and, from the looks of it, will carry right through to the fourth Indiana Jones movie. I’m very excited to see that one now. Incidentally, I managed to snag the last copy of the set at the local Future Shop: everywhere else was completely sold out, so I don't think I'm the only person who was in the mood for keeping up with Dr. Jones after seeing the trailer.

I ran into some of my old coworkers on the weekend and was quite pleased to see them (and by old-coworkers, I am not inferring anything in regards to their age... Well, maybe except a few, but they will remain nameless for now). One of them actually told me that they keep tabs of the blog, so that’s just fantastic! When I started this little thing, I didn’t really think that anyone would really read it all that much, so hearing that little tidbit of news made my week!

Lastly for now: finding a bacon press in Moncton is really, really hard.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ice Cream and Mic Stands

Well, it’s Friday: I’ve officially made it a week with this blog. Typically, during the weekends, I don’t get much of a chance to sit down at the computer since most of that time is spent running around with my family, but we’ll see if I can manage.

David 4.9, my wife and I went out for a mini-Valentine’s Day supper last night, which was nice. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day, primarily because I don’t like celebrating holidays with the initials ‘VD’, but our little outing last night was welcome and pleasant. We just essentially went to the mall and had a bite there, since being accompanied by a 4.9 year old is not quite conducive to romancing. David devoured his popcorn chicken and was then more than happy to put away some chocolate ice-cream as well. Since he was quite ill not too long ago, I’m still a bit happy inside whenever I see him succumb to his seemingly large appetite. Seeing a 4 year old not eat when he’s sick is not fun.

I’ve been thinking of going through the ‘Band World Tour’ in Rock Band by myself by using a mic stand and playing either the bass or the guitar. Do I want to be cool like Sting or just do the Thom Yorke thing? I’m not quite sure yet. I’m probably going to stop buy a local music store sometime this weekend and pic up a cheap mic stand. Then I’ll start belting out the tunes and wailing away on a plastic Stratocaster: oh yeah, it’s totally the rocker’s life for me.

The NDP numbers came out yesterday and I always find those fascinating. Fanboys love to look at the numbers and make an argument as to which console is ‘better’, but personally I just like seeing the sales trends for each unit. Here are the numbers that have been released:

Wii: 274,000
PS3: 269,000
PS2: 264,000
DS: 251,000
360: 230,000
PSP 230,000

Software wise, this is the top 5:

1- Call of Duty 4 (360) 330.9K
2- Wii Play (Wii) 298.1K
3- Guitar Hero III (Wii) 239.6K
4- Rock Band (360) 183.8K
5- Guitar Hero III (360) 182.7K

So my take on this: the Wii is still going very strong sales wise, but what’s this in the number 2 position? The PS3? Wow, how’d that happen? Well, I’m thinking that can be explained from a few different standpoints.

First off: Blu-Ray has virtually been declared the winner in the HD format wars. With Warner declaring their Blu-Ray exclusivity intentions not so long ago, Netflix stating that they’ll be phasing out HD-DVD in the near future, the writing is pretty much on the wall for HD-DVD. That can’t but help the PS3, since it’s essentially one of the cheapest (and best) Blu-Ray players on the market. Personally, I’ll wait until it drops to $299 before I pick one up, but that’s just me. Second, Sony has made positive strides in recovering from their tarnished image. It’s no secret that the advertising push behind the launch of the PS3 and the months after was absolutely horrible and, in a nutshell, insulting to the very demographic they were trying to court. Actually, scratch that, initially Sony didn’t even really KNOW at which group to aim the PS3: is it a game machine, is it a movie player, is it a media convergence device? The lack of focus really didn’t help Sony at that point, but at this moment, they seem to be making positive strides in recovering that image. Good for them. Third (and last thing I can think of) is Microsoft’s 360 ‘shortage’. See how I put ‘shortage’ in quotes there? I wasn’t just being fancy. Anecdotal evidence I’ve seen first hand to really support a shortage per se, since I spotted many Halo and Arcade units at stores last night. However, I did notice a lack of Pro’s and Elite’s, which is kind of unusual. The Xbox 360 Pro is probably the best value proposition you can get, but why does it seem so conspicuously absent in stores? There’s a conspiracy theory running around stating that Microsoft is asking retailers to return the Pro’s and Elite’s containing the Falcon chipset in order to get them potentially restocked with the new revised chipset. What that would mean for Microsoft is that, further down the line as the ‘newer’ system make their way to consumers, less failures will be accrued due to the famous ‘Red Ring of Death’ scenario. Sounds a little farfetched in my opinion. Personally I just think that Microsoft came out with this ‘shortage’ story just a few days before the NDP’s hit to offset the PS3’s time in the #2 position: even though they’re lagging behind the PS3 for the first time, well, EVER, they come out looking not quite as bad as they potentially could’ve.

Finally (for now, anyway) - Rock Band at #4? Awesome!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

For the past few weeks, I had been working on a story that's presently up to 30 pages or so. My son came down with a mean bug during the first weekend off February, and that's been on hiatus ever since then. This afternoon, however, as I was putting some files away, I got an idea for a short story that might interesting to explore. The story I worked on intially is projected to possibly be novella or small novel size since I'm aiming for at least 50,000. However, this second idea that popped in my head is definitely short story sized, and I think I'll concentrate on that for the time being in order to 'get me back in the groove', if you will.
Gamers With Jobs is a fantastic site and they put out a wonderful podcast every week. They’ve discussed Rock Band on and off quite a bit since it came out, and upon listening to the podcast this morning, even the slightest mention of Rush’s Tom Sawyer was able to firmly lodge the song in my head, quite possibly for the rest of the day. Thanks guys, it’s very appreciated.

Speaking of which, my Rock Band Stratocaster has been acting up a bit lately and I’m considering opening it up again. The last time I did so, it resumed its flawless operation as soon as I plugged it back in and only started missing some strums lately. It’s a straightforward enough fix consisting of slightly adjusting some micro-switches, so it’s not a big thing. The most time consuming part of the process is screwing and unscrewing the back of the guitar and that’s the only thing that has been holding me back from doing the small operation, since it’s a little more difficult to do when you’re alone with a 4 year old at night!

And on that thought, David 4.9 and I played some Lego Stars Wars last night, and he’s still very intrigued by the concept of Lego character suicide. Essentially, once he takes the controller from my hands, he then proceeds to either walk the little on screen Lego character off a cliff, chasm, drop or precipice, sending the little creature screaming to its death. Of course, the shout the character lets out when it realizes it’s about to meet its Lego maker varies depending on the character you’re using. So half of David 4.9’s fun is cycling to the next character and then chucking him off a cliff; rinse, lather, repeat. And don’t forget this little tidbit of information: he’s laughing his head off the whole time... Especially when he introduces Jar Jar to the law of gravity. Then again, with that particular character, I can’t help but feel a wee bit of satisfaction every time I hear him yelp.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Of Potato Heads and Faucets

People around the office are commenting on my potato heads, there’s just something alluring about both Darth Tater and the white armor clad Spud-Trooper, I suppose. Wait until I bring in Optimash Prime: that might just bring the house down.

On the domestic side, my kitchen faucet decided to bite the dust yesterday. My wife was in the middle of preparing lunch and apparently, it just stopped pouring water all of a sudden. Now, I’m not very well versed in engineering processes, but a faucet which refuses to pour water seems extremely counterproductive. In any case, my father was kind enough to come over to take a look, since initially we suspected that something might be clogging a pipe somewhere. After disassembling the faucet though, it was quite clear that the water was still running through the pipes (yes, we did turn the valves off before autopsying the thing - yay for being proactive). Upon going to the store though, I started losing hope that I might be able to resolve the issue by just buying the part I needed, since it seems semi-impossible to only purchase the spout part the faucet: you essentially have to get a whole new fixture. Either that, or send the part away to the manufacturer in order to get a new one, which wasn’t really a thought I was relishing. So I ended up in Home Depot, and even though the actual spouts weren’t available for purchase, I managed to speak with a person in the plumbing department who saw the broken spout I had been carrying, asked me to hold on a few minutes while he went a rummaged behind a display of some sort, and emerged with a spout that matched my broken one very closely (the tread was virtually the same size on both spouts, which would make screwing them into the actual faucet a heck of a lot easier). He then asked "How much do you think that’ll run you?" I answered that, honestly, I had no idea, but upon further prodding, threw out that I figured I’d be out $30. He answered that I was way off, and expecting him to name I higher price-point, I was mildly surprised when he said it was on the house. I thanked him for his help and made my gratitude pretty obvious, and needless to say I’ll be going back there if there’s ever anything I need home improvement wise: Nicely done Home Depot.

Changing gears, we’re roughly 8 weeks from our jaunt to London to attend the Starfury con. It still seems a little far away for my tastes, but hopefully the weeks will just fly by until then.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Total Tuesday

I’d like for a new car to pop up in my driveway. Wake up one morning, check outside and poof: New car! Or new used car (I’m not picky). At the moment, that’s really the only downside to the new job, since we’ll probably need an additional vehicle between my wife and I. I’ve got a few vehicles in my sight, so I’ll see what pops up from there.

Speaking of which, week two at work is shaping up nicely. I obviously have a much clearer idea of what I’m supposed to be doing and I’m only feeling more confident as I go. My coworkers are great and extremely understanding when it comes to my newbiness.

Did some DDR-ing with David 4.10 last night. Of course, it’s always some good exercise, but the little guy was quite adept at creating a compelling play list during our session. He’d essentially tell me to back up from the pad and then go in and select the songs for me, closing with a ‘there you go dad!’ It was fun; sweaty, but fun.

I’m not sure if I’m going to get any of the new downloadable content for Rock Band this week. I mean, I like The Police, The Ramones and The Clash, but I actually don’t know any of the songs they’re releasing. But in all honesty, it’s a nice problem to have, since Harmonix have done such an amazing job of releasing music at a steady pace, I’ve never felt starved for content on their platform. Plus, it’s always pleasant to be a bit surprised every week as to what’s released. With that said, just give me my Nine Inch Nails pack now, k?

Monday, February 11, 2008

What am I going to do with this?

Twitter has been kind to me, since it got me in the habit of sending small updates as to what I'm doing to any interested parties. Now, having recently switched jobs, I realized that I wanted to keep in touch with my old co-workers. Sending email updates is fine and dandy, but I had had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I might be missing someone with those little reports, and ideally I didn't want to alienate anyone. So one of those very co-workers I wanted to keep in touch with had an idea: why didn't I start a blog?

Honestly, I wasn't all that sure about that, since I don't really think I'm that fascinating a character. I remain unconvinced that the world in general wants (or needs) to know what I ate for lunch or what I thought about the latest episode of American Gladiators. There's an astronomical amount of blogs out there that touch on virtually every subject, so what could I possibly bring to the table?

I don't have an answer for that. See, if you're looking for the premiere crocheting blog, well I'm sorry to say you haven't found it. What you have found is a place where I can articulate my thoughts, musings and ideas. And also possibly share what I had for lunch, of course. You could say that this place might serve as a place to do a brain dump, where I might try to make sense of the stuff swirling in my heads sometimes, since I tend to find the action of putting down my thoughts into words somewhat cathartic. So, croctheting = out. My thoughts on the latest Rock Band DLC = probably in.

So welcome. And if you do find any killer crocheting blogs, please feel free to forward them along.