Soon To Be Classics

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Black Friday

My work gave us Friday off and after going through the ads on Thursday night, I decided to give "Black Friday" a go. Black Friday is, of course, the busiest shopping day of the year. Oh so the retailers want you to believe so you will come out and spend money on things you don't really need.

However, there were several things I was planning on buying prior to this day and every single one appeared in an ad for one store or another. They were:

A recumbant exercise bike
The second and third Harry Potter films on DVD
A wireless controller (or two) for my Xbox after my wired versions were trashed by the kids

So seeing these, I set out about 6:30am.

My first stop was a pretty scary looking sporting goods store. There was hardly anyone inside so I roamed around looking for the $170 bike from the ad. I found a floor model that was $139 and finally a boxed version of the one I wanted. A manager walked over and I asked him what the difference was. (Note: The picture on the boxed version was cleary different than the display model but he insisted that they were the same.) He then said, "well, of course I'll give you the boxed version for $139." Being an honest guy, I pointed out the difference in the picture and the floor model but he insisted, and proceeded to walk me to the register. Someone wanted to make a sale, I guess. So, I got a $249 recumbant bike for $139. We're off to a good start.

I get to Best Buy at Southcenter at about 7:30am. I find a parking space quick and get into the queue to get inside. After chatting with the folks in line about what a "loss leader" is, I get in and head straight to the video games. To my surprise, the $25 wireless controllers that were $9.99 were sitting in a neat pile. I pick up two and 2 hours later (it was a LONG line) and I'm out the door.

My last stop was Fred Meyer, kind of like a Super Wal-Mart only with a little more class. (IE: Parents not beating their children openly.) They had the Harry Potter films (and the LOTR trilogy) on sales for $5 each. There's NO WAY they still have these as it's almost 10am. Again, to my surprise, they are plentiful. I snatch them up and I'm out the door.

All in all, I'm mighty proud of my luck. Now, I wasn't going for the $100 computers or the $300 laptops (which one store was literally hurling the laptops out into the crowd!) so I stacked the deck in my favor.

Hope you all faired as well!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Of Things Super and of Man

I have noticed on my blog that I write an awful lot about Superman. That's ok, it's a topic that I enjoy.

It's officially the holiday season and aside from my usual viewing of "It's A Wonderful Life", humming Christmas tunes, and just generally feeling better about life in general, I like to re-read my (second) copy of "Superman: Peace on Earth.

Written by Paul Dini (ABC's "Lost") and illustrated by Alex Ross, it is a story of Superman as he should be told. At his core, Superman is an alien. He is not one of us in every way imaginable. The best writers are the ones that tell stories of him striving to fit in, but never quite succeeding. Yes, Superman doesn't succede at the one thing that we all take for granted, being human.

The story revolves around Superman realizing that the holidays have an ugly under belly. The over-abundance our our parties and gift-giving are dwarfed by a world gripped by starvation and need. As a being that can push moons from their orbits, he should be able to do something about this. Right?


I won't give it away, but I do believe that this is a graphic novel for anyone, especially for people who don't understand the wonderful stories being told on these four color pages. Not only is it beautifully realized through Ross' art but the story is told stricly through the first person narrative of Kal-el. There are no word balloons, no sound effects, and you will not find the words "biff" or "pow" anywhere in the pages. I have given copies out to various people who have all said they enjoyed it. (My wife, of course, refuses to have anything to do with it.)

Incidentally, I stumbled across the Wikipedia entry for Superman and it's terrific.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sinking in the Sunken Temple

Last night is the perfect example of why I hate random grouping in World of Warcraft.

Oftentimes, you'll meet wonderful people and have a great adventure. You add people to your friends list and your active gaming community exands wonderfully. Sometimes, you get the total tool that just leaves you with a sour taste.

I logged in around 9pm and was immediately pegged by Tom, Joe and Tee. They were doing Sunken Temple and needed a healer. (It's nice to be loved.) Joe, Kyle and I had a blast earlier hunting Devilsaurs in the Un'Goro Crater so it looked to be another grand adventure. I also had 3 quests there and an itching to get some revenge for a previous wipe in ST. The fifth member of the party, was a Dwarven Hunter named Cainan. Before we even got to the temple I realized that this guy and I were not going to get along. On the way to the temple, he's filling up the party chat with "I wish I was in a guild" and "I'm so lonely". Nice.

So we enter the temple and hack our way to the instance. At this point, Cainan insists that we "suicide" our way in. "Let's suicide into the instance! C'mon, jump!" Now, I should point out that none of us knew where the entrace to the instance was and he'd already taken off. Personally, I like the way Tom works and am happy to follow him into an instance. Unfortunately, Tom didn't know the way so we had to chase this idiot.

We make it to the instance and start hacking our way to Hakkar. Now the fun begins when Cainan starts doing stupid stuff like shooting the mobs that Tee trapped, pulling patrols that he wasn't watching for and telling us that he's following the action of another party in a high level instance. Eventually, I get killed because he pulled more than was necessary. As the healer, as soon as I cast that first heal, the mobs all turn on me as the biggest threat. It's nice to be loved, but not that much. And since my armor is about 1400 and my DPS is 43 I can't do much but die. The advantage that I do have is the ability to stealth my way back into the instance. So on my way back, Cainan starts saying "Dude! Go into Cat form! You can stealth your way back in here!" Now maybe I just didn't react well, but I basically told him to STFU and that I knew how to play my character. That made Tom laugh and was pretty much the last communication that I had with this tool. After my second death, Tom just called it. Cainan insisted on killing one of the bosses but Tom, as group leader, dumped him from the party. He was not happy.

So in retrospect, we got very little out of the run. Joe got a nice 14-slot bag, Tom got 1 dragon scale (I think he was hoping for a lot more) and I got about 1 gold and some XP.

Oh yeah, and I got one more name for the ignore list.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

They Only Lack The Light To Show Them The Way

I vividly remember the ramp up to Superman: The Movie in the late 70's. I remember the newspaper ads, the occasional commercials on our black and white TV and the ads on the back of DC comics (which I hated reading back then, I was a Marvel guy).

When my friend Jeff and I finally got to go on a Saturday, we were forced to take a younger boy with us. Today, I cannot remember who he was or why we got saddled with him. Unfortunately, him being with us caused us to miss the showing as there weren't enough seats.

A week later, we finally got our chance. It was absolutely stunning. I remember being vaguely confused over the new interpretation of Krypton and Jor-El but about 50 minutes into the film when we first saw "the cape" we forgot all about that.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen that movie over the years. Probably dozens. I've listened to the soundtrack probably 10 times that. Still do.

So after a long, crummy day at work. I come home and find this in my usual perusing of the Internet.

Superman Returns Trailer

There is only one voice on the trailer. And it was recorded almost 30 years ago. The music was recorded 30 years ago at the same time.

Watching this made me feel 14 again. And when you hit 40, that feeling is golden.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Our Right to Protect Madonna Extends to Destroying Your Computer

Oh I do so enjoy it when the ridiculous attempts to "protect" music results in the industry looking stupid and inept.

It's been reported that on at least 20 Sony/BMG music CDs, a secret computer program was hidden. When the CD was placed in your computer, the program would install and prevent you from copying that disc more times than Sony deemed you should. Note that this is all done without the knowledge of the consumer.

It turns out that this spyware scheme opened your computer up to security holes that allowed other computers to maliciously take control of your system. This was eventually discovered and Sony/BMG was forced to apologize and offer a solution. (Note: Attempts to remove their program yourself could result in the PC's CD player becoming inactive.)

So this wonderful fix involved sending you to a website where a program would be download and remove the harmful spyware. Well guess what? THAT spyware scheme just opened your system up to even more problems by enabling almost any website with malicious code to take control of your system through your browser.

According to tonight's newscast, Sony/BMG has apologized that "some users experienced difficulties" but defended their rights to protect their music. I imagine the apology did NOT go like this:

"We at Sony/BMG apologize that CD music purchasers are smarter than our high-powered programmers believed and that our plot was discovered. We also apologize that some users felt the need to exercise their rights to keep their computers spyware free and tried to disable our hard work. Serves them right if their players no longer work. At least they won't be loading anymore iPods with Sony/BMG music.

Further, we apologize that our laughable solution to the problem allowed other free-thinking spyware providers and system hackers in China and Germany the right to access your computer. We really don't care what they do to your computer as long as they can't access our music stored on your system. Come to think of it, since we already trashed your CD player, that shouldn't be a problem.

Fuck you all. Long live Menudo. Love, Sony/BMG"

It has also been announced that in 2006, all Sony/BMG discs will contain copy protection. Merry Christmas.

I understand that piracy = bad blah blah blah and that Sting barely makes enough money to live on blah blah blah but you when you cross the road and become a spyware provider then I'm done with sympathy. I spend probably an hour a month stripping spyware out of my system, dealing with emails filled with viruses and managing a popup blocker. I'm sick of it.

I do not purchase music nor do I download it. Really, music just isn't a big part of my life that isn't already playing on the radio. Now that I have to wonder what hidden little surprises they're including on that new disc, I doubt I'll change my buying habits.

Reap what you sow Sony. I hope your bottom line reflects your contempt for your users.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I Am NOT Making This Up

One of my favorite writers is Dave Barry. His column is a very much a printed blog, years before blogging became popular. Or even existed.

You could always tell something good was coming in Dave's columns when he preceeded an item with the quote "I am NOT making this up". The word "not" was always in upper case to emphasize that what you were about to read is really NOT a fabrication.

So, in the style of Dave Barry, I am NOT making this up.

The link below is of a Japanese television show where they strap meat to young pre-teen girls heads and release a hungry lizard.

Again, I am NOT making this up.

Watch for yourself. WTF is wrong with these people???

Meat Helmets

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Orson Welles, The Batman

This is just a cool story that every fan of the Dark Knight should read.

Orson Wells as The Batman

Check it out!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Sometimes the easiest games are the best

From someone who plays a lot of games, and a lot of really complex ones, it's refreshing to find something so stupidly simple that it can occupy me for hours on end, if I let it.

My friend Tee (damn you to Hell, by the way, for sending this link to me at work) sent this to me. The goal is to use your cursor to keep the red square from touching any other square or the walls.

So far, 19.45 seconds is my best but I won't rest until I hit 30.



Thursday, November 10, 2005

Why Don't They Need Vacuums in Hollywood?

I hate to be in such a negative mood, but Hollywood just has me shaking my head.

There are two movies being promoted right now. The first, is "Your, Mine, & Ours". This film stars Dennis Quaid and Renee Russo as single parents of large families that marry and make a larger family. It's actually based on a 1968 movie by the same name. The concept has also been seen in the original and more recently updated film "Cheaper By The Dozen". (Incidentally, "Cheaper By The Dozen II" is in the works. Does this mean there will be 2 additional kids or do you multiply and there will now be 24 kids?)

All of the movies above are essentially reasons to show kids making parents look like idiots and there's not an original idea amongst the four. The perfect holiday family film.

Next, we have Zathura. This movie is about two kids that are playing a game that once they start, they have to play to the end. The game then begins causing things to happen and throwing monsters and characters at them, destroying most of their house, putting their lives in peril, etc. Jumanji...excuse me, Zathura, is by Chris Van Allsburg, who also wrote Jumanji. And Zathura. What's really sad is that the only real difference between these two stories based on the advanced reviews is that Zathura is 9 minutes longer.

My point is, is there an original idea left in Hollywood? Here's a starter question for you. What was the last movie you saw that surprised and challenged you?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Ok, I admit it. This post serves no purpose other than to share this picture with my blogging fans. The upcoming Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) film "Super Ex-Girlfriend" stars Luke Wilson as a hapless man who discovers his girlfriend, Uma Thurman, is actually a costumed super hero. When he breaks up with her for being too controlling, she begins using her powers to exact revenge upon him.

Hell, I think I dated her once.

Anyway, this is the first photo of Uma in costume. I have days when I think Uma is just drop dead gorgeous and others when I am not sure. Same with Angelina Jolie who would probably also look great as a super hero. I don't know what powers Uma's character has but it's obviously not the ability to run fast in those heels.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

"Ite Me", Toyota

I think I'm realizing an unexpected effect of aging. As you grow up, everyone that produces products, services, TV shows, etc. are always older than you and certainly know more than you do. At some point though, you surpass the people in those positions in age. So now these people know either just as much, or possibly less, than you do. Here's an example of this that I saw today.

There was a commercial during the Kansas City - Oakland game for Toyota. It showed some guys videotaping a Toyota Tacoma driving through some scrubland. You suddenly hear someone say "Look at that!" The camera swings up, and you see a fireball shoot through the sky, hit the truck dead center, and a huge explosion ensues. After some brief camera shaking, the Tacoma drives out with the off-camera spectators saying "No way!!"

Now, despite the ridiculous nature of the spot, the commercial ends with the on-screen phrase "Toyota Tacoma - Meteor Proof".

Now, it's been a while since science class, but I'm pretty certain that a meteor that hits the ground is called a meteorITE. So in the spot, the truck is hit by a meteorite. Perhaps that is how they can get away with saying "Meteor proof" because to truly test the theory, you need to get a Toyota Tacoma into space.

So I cannot decide if the education system is degrading so much that the things I see on TV are now being produced by people with worse educations than me, or they just don't think anyone will notice or care.

All I do know is that if an asteroid collision is certain, I'm getting a Tacoma because it totally survived that impact. No way!!!

Help A Superhero Out, OK?

This is a thread that was passed around at work. I don't know if it's true or not but I can certainly see how boredom, the Internet, and corporate emails can create this much fun. By the way, ignore the "Join" button and scroll down a hair to see the thread.

Awesomeness Man Needs A New Car

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

On Golf Balls and Coffee

I really hate email forwards, but I thought this was really prophetic, and it hit a nerve with a lot of self-evaluating that I've been doing lately. This was sent to my company by a woman who was leaving after being with us for a few years.

The Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Cups of Coffee

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.

He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the Jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes." The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things--your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else---the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."