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.