Wednesday, September 30, 2009

People are stupid. Don't try and deny that, because in the space of 2 minutes I witnessed some jackass sleeping at a green light and some other jackass driving in reverse down the road (towards me).

People are stupid.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I read something interesting the other day. It was a little piece going on about how we bury ourselves in a mountain of cars, television, video games, and other materialization in order to hide from the real issues of the world. I paid attention to this because I felt it was speaking to me. And it garnered this attention not simply because I read it and said to myself, "Hey, wait a minute, I play video games so what are you trying to say, buddy?!", but because it made me stop and think about it and wonder, "Okay, *am* I hiding from something?"

The truth of the matter is, what "issues" should I be confronting out there in that real world? Let's scan the headlines and see what's on our plate right now: The first headline I see is about Iran. Should I be worried that Iran is going to send a nuclear missing into my backyard? If so, how is worrying about it going to make the situation better? Will it stop that missile from wiping out millions of people? Will it make Iran stop hating Israel? Will it make Iran stop denying the Holocaust ever happened? Will it make Iran stop hating Americans because of our policies? Should I be enlisting in the military so I can be ready to go over there and kill them before they try to kill me?

The next headline is about Sarah Palin writing her memoirs. Wow. Couldn't give less of a crap about that. Regardless, should I be worrying about her possibly running for president? Should I be donating to her competitors to try and prevent this from happening? Will that stop her from running? Will it make her smarter?

Next article: Military crackdown in Guinea. Lots of people dead. Should I be worried? Should I be jumping on the next Red Cross boat to Guinea to do humanitarian services?

We've also got flooding in the Philippines, typhoons in Vietnam, anti-president polls on Facebook, Roman Polanski getting busted in Switzerland, shortages of flu vaccines, a death from a cancer vaccine, incest, sports injuries, and Wolverine stopping his play because of an annoying cell phone.

Lots and lots of things to worry about. Dear me, how can I sit here writing in a blog, playing video games, watching TV, or socializing on Facebook when so much stuff is going on?!

Ok, enough with the melodramatics. Here's my point: There's a big difference between finding an escape, and becoming ignorant to the world because of them. If you know the world has problems (and let's face it, what idiot doesn't realize that?), then it's no one's business how you deal with that. If your thing is to actually get out there and do something about it, then you have at it. If your thing is to sit in bed and eat a half gallon of chocolate ice cream, then damn it, that's okay too. It's the people who engulf themselves so deeply into their distractions until they lose touch with everything else who are the problems. That kind of ignorance leads to stupid decisions fueled by being uninformed, misunderstood, and ignorant.

So yes. I am hiding from the real issues of the world. Damn straight I am.

Case in point: This utterly random post on a relatively random topic is me channeling my frustration about another particular issue of which I have no way of fixing myself. But that doesn't change the fact that I know it's there and how it's affecting me.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Name That Tune

Usually, when I get a song stuck in my head, I know one of three things. I either know the name of the song, I know the band that sings it, or I know at least one piece of the lyrics. Any of these things will allow me to find the song very easily. Sometimes, however, I will have none of these and the task of finding the song becomes quite difficult. Such a case happened to me last night. I basically only knew two words from the song, which were very common words: "Are you". I also knew what the singer sounded like and that I did indeed own the song somewhere. This meant the best way to find the song was to go through my playlist and find all the artists who sound like the singer in my head. This adds up to 4,000 tracks.

I didn't find it last night, but I did finally find it tonight after going through the playlist one more time. The song is Radiate by Puddle of Mudd.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Strange Dream

I don't remember my dreams very much. I know I dream all the time, but they're usually out of my head as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. Often, if I do remember a dream it is because I see or hear something the next day that triggers a memory of it. For example, this morning I got an email from This reminded me that last night I dreamed I got a new kitten and ordered immunization shots for it.

I remembered a really strange one from two nights ago. Jeff actually reminded me of it, and the trigger was only him mentioning that he also had a strange dream that night. I was walking down the road very close to my own house at the end of the driveway. There were two people walking with me. I know they were friends of mine, but I cannot remember who they were exactly. Soon, a pickup truck came speeding up the road. The driver lost control and hit a tree. A baby flew out of the window of the truck and landed in the grass. The three of us went over and looked down at it, and then I woke up.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Now that I've finished the Story Mode of Batman, I've going back through the whole map trying to solve all the riddles. Not sure I'm going to have the patience for this, though, because it's only been 20 minutes and already I want to punch some bad guys. But I can't, cause they're all gone now that I've beaten the game. Bah. Here's a few shots from the end of the game.

Batman Video

I recorded a little video clip of me doing some fighting in Batman. The combat, especially hand-to-hand combat, is excellent. I made two mistakes in this fight (you'll see I get hit twice). The first time I just wasn't fast enough on the block button. The second time, I hit Batarang by accident. Dur-de-dur. Anyway, enjoy the video.

(Better do a right-click, save target as.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So I've got about 15 minutes before I leave work, and I actually have free time. This is something that hasn't happened in, oh, about three months. This project has been royally pissing me off lately, as this past weekend showed. (See previous post.) Yesterday was bad as well, and I must have been wearing my "look at me wrong and die" expression on my face, because my boss was prompted to ask me if I was okay. That then led into the "without you we would have had to layoff 3 people" speech. Uplifting? Okay, maybe a little bit. But it doesn't change the fact that I'm tired, dammit.

But hey, I'm leaving on time today. And I left on-time yesterday. And Monday, too. For now, I've got my head above water on this stupid project, and hopefully I can keep it there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm often misunderstood, and this is a prime example of such:

I finished a major project for work over the weekend. The request from the customer was unreasonable, because the amount of work they sent us and the timeframe in which they wanted it completed was ridiculous. We didn't make any promises, of course, but that didn't stop my boss from asking me to work on Saturday along with 2 other members of my team. To make a long story short, we got the project done ahead of schedule.

All weekend long I was getting emails from vice-presidents of the company congratulating us and saying how great of a job we did and how we really "turned that account around". That last part pissed me off, because they just don't get it. They don't get it at all. We didn't turn shit around. All we did is ensure the next time this customer makes a request as ridiculous as this one, they are going to expect that we get it done just as quickly as we completed this one.

That's not great customer service. That's stupid, and it's a great way of pissing off your employees.

I voiced my opinion of this to my boss, and his reply was, "I'm right there will ya, and I've already requested bonuses for you and your team."

Sigh. They just don't get it. I don't want to be rewarded. I want my weekend back!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Right off the bat (bad pun #432) I just want to say that I'm impressed. I was expecting a dumbed down game. I was expecting something for children of about 10 (even though it's rated T for Teen). I guess part of this is because I was force fed utterly stupid and campy Batman movies for most of my childhood. I remember watching the 1960's TV show on FX when I was a pre-teen and thinking it was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever seen in my life. Then Tim Burton came around and he did a fairly good job. The first time. His second one was awful. And then it got campy again. So yeah, I was expecting a campy arcade game. I'm pleasantly surprised.

First, let's go over the bad.

Controls -- I'm the kind of guy who likes to set his keybindings on the fly. If I don't like the way I mapped something, I want to change it in game. You can't do that in this game. You have to exit all the way out of the game and start it up again to change any keybinding. That's annnoying.

Camera -- Not a big fan of the "over-the-right-shoulder" view.

Upgrades -- None of them are like, you know, really cool.

And that's really about the only complaints I have about it. The rest is golden. Some highlights:

Kevin Conroy voices Batman, and Mark Hamill voices The Joker. They do the voices in the animated series, which I have seen, so they really do sound like Batman and Joker to me. I recognize the voices, and that's really cool.

There are points in the game where I feel like I'm playing Half-Life, and that is a very big compliment. Crawling through ventilation shafts? I'm so there, and I love any game that reproduces that correctly. I know it's a silly thing to mention and get hung up on, and it's hard to explain exactly why I like a game that makes me crawl through small enclosed spaces. But that's me.

Grappling around is FUN. Waiting for a thug to walk underneath you and then string him up before he even knows what's happening is hilarious, and it's cool to just grapple to a different high vantage point while the remaining thugs come over to investigate what the hell is going on (and then go searching for me so I can continue to pick them off one by one).

The fist fights are great, but I'm still getting the hand of blocking. I have this problem where every time I need to block an attack, I'm in the middle of a combo and can't do it. I haven't lost a fight yet that wasn't a boss fight, so I guess it's really not that bad, but I get annoyed when I am fast enough to react to something, but because my character is already in the middle of doing something else he won't react to me.

The Scarecrow's levels are AWESOME. This is the perfect example of something I did NOT think I would see in this game. These levels are dark, psychotic, and utterly creepy. As they should be, since, you know, it's The Scarecrow. Probably some of my favorite visuals in the game are on those levels. I've seen him twice so far.

Seeing, hearing, and finding references to all of Batman's villains is very cool. Naturally, we have the Joker as the main villain. But I've also seen Croc, The Scarecrow, and Bane. I've heard The Riddler. And I've seen references to Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and Zsasz. And given that I'm only 15-20% through the game, I'm sure there will be much more to come.

Oh, and not having to worry when I fall off a ledge is fantastic. Heh.

Here's some screenshots from the game. Obviously, the graphics are superb as well.

Oh, hi Croc!

Does it hurt when I do THIS?


So Batgirl is called Oracle now? I should really read the comics.

When all else fails, rip it off of the wall with your bare hands.

Oh look, it's Michael Jackson.

Batarang's away.

The Scarecrow makes Batman relive the murder of his parents. Pissing Batman off is a very dumb idea...

Bye, bye, Scarecrow.

Awesome villain design. Look at him!

Commisioner Gordon makes several appearances.

The Batcave.

Monday, September 07, 2009

I watched two remakes this weekend. Actually, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find new movies that AREN'T remakes. Here's an idea for you, Hollywood: Why don't you make The Dark Tower into a film series? Or make a film based on It that is actually good and doesn't have Tim Curry in it? Or even one based on Cell (one of Stephen King's more recent novels). I'm sure he'd sell the rights to you for about $19.

Anyway, enough with the tangent. I could go on and on about that all day. In any case, I watched Halloween and Friday the 13th. Already these movies are at a disadvantage, because you know what's going to happen. They can change the plot from the original all they want, but it all comes down to the same thing no matter how you slice it. (Pun intended.) And that is, it's a guy in a mask chopping people up. That's all it is, and that's all people are going to expect, and that's all you can give them.

The reasons why the originals were so popular and so shocking it because no one really knew what they were getting when they went to see it. It's the unexpected that shocks and scares people, and it's always been that way. It doesn't matter how much more blood you can put on the screen now and not get slapped with an X rating -- that's not scary. Now that we know what we're getting when we sit down to watch this movie, the bite to it is gone. I firmly believe that if you made a slasher film, put people like, say, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DeCaprio in it, advertise it as an R rated romantic comedy, and then cut them into little tiny pieces instead, THAT would be shocking. And probably sell lots of tickets, too.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

More Wolfenstein

And this post will be more than just pictorial. For starters, this is a solid shooter. Very enjoyable and action packed, and not too short. It's not a heavy-weight though. It's no Half-Life 2. There's no meat to it, I should say, and that's fine because Return to Castle Wolftenstein didn't have too much meat to it either, though it had more than this game has. This game feels very arcade-like. It feels very console-like. Part of this I blame on what I call the "Achievement Insanity Era". Find all the gold achievement! Kill this many Nazis achievement! Blow up this many barrels achievement! Yeah. And suddenly your game has no plot, no story, and is nothing but a bunch of goals to achieve.

In any case, I didn't particularly pick this game up for a good story. I picked it up to kill Nazis like Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds. And there are plenty of Nazis to kill. Normal Nazis. Super-powered Nazis. Zombie Nazis. Oh yes. And really, the only complaint I have about the gameplay is that I wish there had been more stealth missions. I'm a fan of those. (Yes, I spent hours and hours playing the Splinter Cell games.) And there were levels such as these in RTCW. I remember my favorite level was one where I had to sneak through a German village with nothing but a silenced pistol and assassinate three high ranking Nazi officials. If I made a mistake, alarms were sounded all over the village and the mission was failed. I would have loved to have a mission such as that in this game, or even a level where it was actually possible to try and stealth through the whole thing. I was hopeful there would be since silencers were upgrade options for more than one of your weapons, but alas, every time I tried to sneak around, dozens of Nazis would magically know where I was and find me, even if I silently shot a Nazi who was miles away from any of his buddies. That was sort of disappointing.

I have no complains about the guns 'o blazing aspect of the game, however. Go figure.

And now, some commentated pictorial highlights:

These guys are fun, since I like mini-bosses where you have to do more than just empty a dozen clips of ammo into them to bring them down. To take down these badasses, you have to shoot the canisters on their back to make them explode. They have a cool death animation, too.

And you get their gun when they die, too. Mmm, disintegrating Nazis.

The level designs are very detailed and good-looking. It's a pleasure walking through them. Most of them are very straight-forward, as well. I only found myself unsure of which way to go about twice during the whole game. (Which you might laugh at, considering the HUGE ASS compass in front of your face at all times.)

This sequence was fun. You rode on the back of a train using a mounted gun, mowing down hundreds of sniffers. "They're coming out of the God damned walls!" (Actually, they were running on the walls, but I like that quote and wanted to use it.)

The Telsa Gun is probably my favorite. I like my Nazis extra-crispy.

And why isn't it like that all the time?

I'm downloading a movie right now, and it's clipping along at 1,545 KB/s. I remember about a year or so ago, I would get about 800 KB/s.

This is just another reason to hate Comcast. They only increase your bandwidth when everyone else does too and there might actually be a possibly you would switch to their competitor. Sadly I don't have a competitor to switch too, but that's beside the point. I still hate them.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands

The introductions are over.

A whole hell of a lot happens in this book, so much more than any of the previous ones. It is truly adventure on an epic scale. I'm very envious of how good King is able to write. I'm quite humbled, actually. The first book reminded me of a western. The second, a fleshing out of main characters, albeit quite action packed. This third book is basically Tokien without the boring parts.

There are not many resolutions in this book. Even the very end is a cliffhanger. But many things are set up. One, the quest for the Dark Tower is now happening in full. Next, we see each of the strengths and weaknesses of the four gunslingers. We see what they are good at, and we hear them admit what they are not good at. And the beautiful part of this is just how well they compliment each other. Together, you really get the feeling they could do anything.

Most importantly to the core story, however, we learn exactly what the Dark Tower is and what it represents. Roland explains that the Tower is in the center of the universe. It is a rivet, with six beams holding it in place. These beams are the fabric of space and time itself. Follow a beam, and it will lead you to the Tower.

And so our heroes set out on the Path of the Beam.

The time paradox between Roland and Jake is probably my second favorite part of the book, which naturally ends in Jake's drawing into Roland's world. The best part for me though, of course, was Lud and the rescue of Jake from the Grays. That was the part of the book that kept it clamped in my hands and reading well past the time I wanted to stop.

And in the spirit of Blaine, I will end with a riddle.

This thing is light as a feather, but no man can hold it for long. What is it?


Holy smokes.  The last post I wrote for this blog was on October 18, 2017.  Through the little more than  two years since, this blog has be...