Soon To Be Classics

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The RIAA Has Now Lost It's Mind

Guess what folks? According to the Recording Industry Association of America, if you go to a record store, purchase a CD AT FULL MSRP and copy those to your PC (or by default, iPod) you are breaking the law and they will come after you.

Note: The guilty party is NOT sharing these files. They are merely transferring it to their personal computer. Period. If you have no Internet connection, and copy a disc to your PC, you're a filthy, thieving criminal.

Read the article here.

What I'm Playing

I spent a long time tooling around Azeroth with my Night Elf Druid in World of Warcraft, the online MMORPG. One of my justifications is that I wasn't spending $50 a month on a NEW game for either my PC or Xbox and playing a game that I enjoyed steadily for $14 per month.

Now that I'm almost 8 months "clean" from WoW, I have begun enjoying the diversity of other games. As I said a few entries back, we hit the Wii jackpot at Christmas. Medal of Honor 2 : Heroes is a great shooter which I can only play at night because my four year old is very curious about why I'm shooting people. If any of you have it, and the Wii, let's hook up for some games. The Wii multiplayer lobbies are very slick and best of all, free! If you see "Mkae", that's me.

I've been spending a lot of time on QQ Games, the free online game service from America Online. All you need is a free AIM account and the downloadable client. I literally log about an hour a day playing these very addicting games. Look for "Radioman" in the lobbies, mostly in "Treasure Hunter".

The kids are totally addicted to Mario Party 8 which I have to admit got old very fast for me. It has received glowing reviews and as far as bang for your buck goes, it's king. Over 50 mini-games means that you pay about $1 each. Not too bad. J has become quite the Mario fan so I downloaded Donkey Kong (yes, the original) on the impressive Wii store channel so he could see and play the first iteration of the character. On a side note, I quickly blew through the first three boards only to be completely astounded that there were ONLY THREE BOARDS. Wow, things were different in the 80's.

The biggie though, is Super Mario Galaxy. Oh my God. I've played platformers before but to be honest, I have never been a huge fan. I played the first Super Mario Brothers but not owning a Nintendo for a long time, I missed the rest of the series. My preference was the Sega Genesis' Sonic the Hedgehog, which is now incorporated into the Nintendo camp.

Back on topic, this game is stunning. The storyline revolves around Peach (the Lois Lane of the Nintendo universe) getting kidnapped by floating Pirate ships and taken to another galaxy. Mario then travels to this cosmic observatory and meets the mysterious Rosalina who sets him on the quest to explore galaxy after galaxy to find Peach and collect "star bits" along the way. Each galaxy features it's own set of physics, life forms, and challenges. The visuals are absolutely stunning and the game play is outrageously fun. We've gone through about three galaxies (each has 3 challenges) and have rarely used the same technique against the indigenous life forms and bosses. I think that the Wii has found it's "killer app" with this one folks.

Up next, we're looking at picking up "Mario vs. Sonic at the Olympics" and there's a Star Trek game called "Conquest" that hasn't gotten bad reviews. We'll see. The biggie though comes later this year when Star Wars : Force Unleashed hits the Wii. That'll be a Day One purchase, I think.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


I just found this today. If you haven't seen the trailer for Wil Smith's July 2008 "dramedy", check out the trailer here. It looks pretty damn funny but you know how trailers can be.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Repeating History, Hulk Style

Here's an image from the new film, "The Incredible Hulk" starring Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, the scientist who eventually becomes the rampaging beast we know and love as "Hulk".

Two things about this picture struck me. First, is the striking similarity between this and the 1970's version. Remember how Bill Bixby sat in a similar machine that projected a target on his forehead?

The second thing that struck me is that ANYTHING that EVER projects a target on your forehead is probably NOT a good thing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Lot Of Nintendo

It was reported on this morning's news that while they had them in stock, was selling 17 Nintendo DS video game units PER SECOND. Further, the Nintendo Wii was the top Christmas toy for two years running. Despite not getting a DS this year (although I didn't really ask for one but figured my odds were good with that sales velocity) I find this a pretty fascinating exercise in Brand mechanics.

When the Wii was announced a couple years back, a colleague and I got into a heated debate. He posited that the Wii would fail because technically, it lacks the computing and graphics capabilities of the XBox 360 and the PS3. It's built on the core engine of the Nintendo Gamecube, a competent but aging system that failed against the original XBox and PS2. I argued that the Wii would be a success because they were trying something different. At the time, we didn't know that families, the elderly and very young children would actually take to it. What was apparent though is that Microsoft and Sony are just further narrowing their consumer base.

When you continually separate your audience into the haves and have nots (choice of playing their good Xbox games as opposed to getting the better Xbox 360 games) you're going to lose market share, UNLESS you take share from the competition. So Sony and Microsoft control pieces of the overall pie and the knife lines are shifting back and forth. What Ninento did was exactly what they did back in the 80's when they released the Gameboy. They increased the accessibility of their product. The market share of video gaming is big, yes. But there's a much bigger market out there that includes groups that are further being disenfranchised by the cost and complexity of video games. With the Wii remote and Nunchuka and games that require real motion over button mashing, more people are willing to try video games and (almost more importantly) in groups. This is something that's a huge after-thought to Xbox and Playstation.

Now, I'm not saying that the video gaming industry is in trouble. It clearly isn't. Xbox 360 had a great year led by the marketing juggernaut of Halo 3. The PS3 did not have a good year, with no killer app, a too high price point, and Sony's planting of their flag in the Blue-Ray vs. HD battle (which is still undecided who will win). The industry is still roughly on par with the movie industry and will only continue to grow as video gaming is quickly becoming the home entertainment choice. What Nintendo did was start with the question that every Brand Manager should. "What does the customer want?" Sure, there are lots of customers who want the better graphics and such, but the much larger and unsolicited group is saying "I would like to be able to play video games."

I think the Wii and the DS is going to greatly change how the world looks at video games. My kids (4 and 6 years of age) couldn't play even the easiest Xbox games I could find. They didn't understand pushing buttons to make things happen like driving cars, moving characters, etc. With the Wii, they have now been introduced to video games at a much younger age then they normally would have. One day they will no doubt outgrow the Wii or the DS and want more, but they will have had a much smoother introduction to the entire genre.

Now if only I could get my DS...

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007, R.I.P.

I sit huddled in a dark corner away from the battle. Desperately scrawling memories to record before they're lost in a haze of food, alcohol and the crush of cardboard and paper. Across the room, I see heaps of bodies surrounded by the ordinance of the day. Each pile a battle unto itself. Moans can be heard from corner from those still hanging onto a thread of consciousness. "They don't have long," I think to myself. Smoke wafts up from a lilac scented candle and it's flame flickers in the eyes of the in-laws whose only recourse is to wait silently for the end to come. Someone is piling the bodies in large piles. Webkins here. Star Wars action figures over there. Somewhere, Dora the Explorer is saying how wonderful it is to be a fucking Mexican mermaid.

Christmas...has ended.

It started with torture as Christmas did in my youth. My Dad would always wait until we were ready to open presents before "remembering" to charge his flash. It was a 3 hour charge, even though he was only going to take 5 pictures. He'd excuse himself for a smoke and 17 cups of Sanka. Today, my daughter (who is NEVER up early) was up and raring to go. She had to wait for my son (who NEVER sleeps late) to wake up. He was sleeping off a handful of grape flavored generic Tylenol for his fever. Or to be honest, it could have been a handful of Sweet Tarts. It was dark last night.

Once he finally awoke, the carnage began as they dug into the 10 presents EACH that Santa Claus brought them. Apparently, no other children got anything because these two got it all.

Around 11am, the two families of in-laws came over to join the festivities. They brought with them roughly 1000 decibels of children. The noise ordinance sign posted at the front of my in-law's condo development was weeping.

The mother-in-law trotted out some amazing food as always, but the sister-in-laws brought a bountiful harvest as well. D brought the show-stopper though, in the form of a mini-weenie, smothered in barbecue sauce and wrapped in...wait for it...bacon. This is the point in the pig's life when we're just fucking with it. "Look, not only are we going to hack you up to make mini weenies (Sorry, corn dog line over there) but then we're going to take another strip of your ass and wrap it around the mini weenie. And just in case that tastes like shit, we're going to soak it in a red sauce. Next!"

We hit the Wii jackpot, with a whopping 6 games. Including the game my boy has been crying for over the last 3 months; Super Mario Galaxy. This is a game that is rated E for everyone, but every reviewer pretty much agrees that if you haven't played every single platform game in existence, this one is going to kill you. My boy is 4.

I got my token custom made calendar that contained every picture my four year old hates, especially the one of his butt crack. That made him VERY happy. And by VERY, I mean not so much. Speaking of crack, this is the second year running that my brother in law decided to show us his ass. Last year, it was at the bowling alley, in the middle of the lane. In public. This year, we just got the pressed ham on the sliding glass door. Dear God, pass the Windex please.

It wouldn't be Christmas without injuries and the last two days accounted for several. The Father-in-law fell in the driveway and split his head open. My son fell and somehow (and how shit like this happens is beyond me) managed to wedge his hand into this folding Hot Wheels contraption. The only way he figured he was getting out, is by folding the thing up with his hand inside. He's now black and blue.

My biggest annoyance of the weekend was when all of the kids got Webkinz. I had oh so hoped to spare my children this descent into Hell to no avail. My wife (who continues to forget I have a programming degree) pushes me into getting all of the kids signed up for their WebKinz account IN THE MIDDLE OF CHRISTMAS DAY. If any of you know anything about servers go back and read that last sentence again. There was 16 million of these damn things opened on Christmas. You'll have better luck getting Hannah Montana tickets via Ticketron on fucking dial-up. As I expected, it was a total cluster. Seeing "Our Servers are screwed to hell. Please come back later." 50 times was very pleasant.

The big challenge now, is to try and get all of this stuff back home with us. The wife kept saying we are taking back less than we brought (consider that I was last to pack and could only bring enough cloths, not shoes, for a couple of days). I think we're completely screwed and the only way we're getting everything home is with a large blender.

But it is done. It was good to see the in-laws and the associated nieces and nephews, in-laws and outsiders (that's what the three of us who married in call ourselves). My family had no traditions around Christmas. Santa usually brought one present and the folks got us two, maybe three. We never did stockings, rarely did dinner, and never went to church. This family has so many traditions (like moonings) that you need a program to stay ahead of the game. Maybe that's what I'll do for next year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas To All

It's Christmas Eve and I've already caught a glove full of vomit.

Ok, that wasn't necessarily how I planned on penning this entry but that's what's top of mind right now. Jameson came down with a 101 degree fever on the way to dinner tonight so things are a little quieter than they might otherwise be. He's been kind of cranky this year anyway and I'm not sure he's getting the whole "Santa Claus" thing, even at 4. Bailey is into it and grilling me for information about Christmas physics. She's going to be tough.

For all of you that still read, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


For those of you who were with me at The Company, here's an interesting link.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Flying Late

We flew to the Twin Cities on Monday night to spend time with the wife's family. They're pretty good people so it's not a big deal. My family is so fragmented and so lacking in holiday tradition that it seems I have spent most of my life drafting onto other family's celebrations. Back in Newark, I actually spent two Christmas Days at the Mayor's house!

We flew a red eye so the kids would sleep. That worked fine but I couldn't sleep. Thus, I totally crashed about 8am for 4 hours. I'm still having trouble adjusting. I hate flying East, I really do.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Christmas Wish To You All

In case I don't get the chance, I would like to say Merry Christmas to my past friends. The following video nicely sums up how sad it makes me that I won't see you all this holiday season.

What A Great Sunday

- Cleveland defies the critics and gets the job done in the snow (my favorite type of game to watch).

- New England proves the talent is on the field, not behind the video camera.

- And Pittsburgh goes down in flames. Woot!

Now if Miami can finally pull out a win against Baltimore, it'll be a perfect day. Oh yeah, and Favre passes Marino for the most passing yards in the NFL, which is also cool. I'm not a huge Packer fan, but how can you not like Favre?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mentos and Coke = Insanity

My wife put two large rolls of Mentos (The Fresh Maker!) in front of me yesterday. Eyes slightly wide, she described something she had seen about what happens when you put Mentos in a 2-litre of Diet Coke. If you don't know, here's a great video showing you the result.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

An Update from Home

Well, here's where we stand with mom now.

We've had a number of tests done from an MRI, Petscan, blood work, etc. We were supposed to get the diagnosis on Friday but there was a mixup with the appointment and we missed it. I'll have to try to get it on Monday over the phone as mom is now back east visiting my sister. From all appearances, it's Alzheimers Disease. The word has been used a few times and she's been oddly quiet about it. I tried to talk to her about it the other day and I'm sure she understands that anything is wrong. "Just getting old," she keeps saying.

We had a very small Christmas get together last night with some friends of Jen. Mom came over and gave the kids their presents (which they loved). We gave her a digital photo frame that I filled with pics of the kids, my dad (who's deceased 16 years now), some old family photos, etc. I used to think those things were the stupidest idea ever, but since mom now can barely operate a phone it was the perfect gift. She looked horrible throughout the evening and I put her to bed early as we had a very early flight to get her on this morning.

So she is out with Lori for the holidays. She hasn't seen her daughter in 2 and a half years so this will be good. I'm not sure what medication she'll be on, but as I see how she has withered in the last several months, I can't help but think the worst. She recognizes us fully and doesn't really have trouble with daily tasks but she gets confused easily, especially anything involving her finances. I think I'll have to take that over when she returns just to keep her from getting into trouble.

If you haven't had to go through this, it's pretty much exactly how you see it on television. Except, it's longer than an hour. It's every day, every hour, every minute. It's late night calls, panic and confusion, paranoia, and patience. Once we get the diagnosis, I'll probably have to call one of the associations. I have no one to talk to about this, literally.

I lost my dad in 1991 when he was only 54 years old. Mom is 74 and looks like she's 100. Last year, she looked like she was 73. I handled dad's death very badly. I got the call at 6am right after I had started my morning radio show. I did 4 hours of show without thinking about it because there was no one to come in and fill in for me. Then, I had to handle all of the arrangements. Then I sort of just shut down that part of my brain for a bit. Then 2 months later, I broke out in shingles on my back because I had bottled up the pressure so badly. That's what I feel like now. I'm handling everything and I have to be the one to make sure she gets the care she needs. Sooner or later, the pressure valve is going to blow.

Bleh. I really wish it wasn't Christmas. I was at the mall today with the kids and aside from their excitement, there's nothing appealing about any of this.

Rambling mode off.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What Is Seen Cannot Be Unseen

We got into a discussion at the office the other day about bad movies. The question became, "...what movie would you 'unsee' if you could?" Meaning, if you could completely forget ever seeing a film, which would it be?

For me (and this will probably be unpopular amongst my blogging friends) the movie I would unsee is "Seven". I walked out of that film feeling I just dropped $6 to see the culmination of an author and filmmaker's drunken bet to see how depraved they could possibly get and have the movie get past the ratings board. It was nothing but the glorification of sadism and cruelty much in the same vein as the "Saw" films.

Oddly enough, another film I wish I could unsee is Death Wish. Although the movie was pretty much a joke, there's a rape scene in there (The victim was Marina Sirtis who went on to play Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation.) that bothered me for a long time.

So what is burned into your brains my blogging friends?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

100 Greatest Video Games

I love lists. Now that we're in the twilight of 2007, you're likely to be bombarded by them. has posted one that is near and dear to my blog reader's hearts.

IGN's Top 100 Video Games

In case you were wondering, here is my list:

100. Archon (This game introduced me to controller smashing frustration.)
98. Quake II
88. Star Wars (Arcade)
83. World of Warcraft
81. Space Invaders
72. Mechwarrior
68. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
66. Burnout 3: Takedown (Best driving game EVER!)
62. Wolfenstein 3D
51. Sonic the Hedgehog
32. Halo
27. Star Wars : KOTOR
19. DOOM
13. Ms. Pac Man
12. Star Wars : TIE Fighter
11. Starcraft
2. Tetris
1. Super Mario Brothers

I think Pac Man is a notable omission from the list, even though Ms. Pac Man represents the line. Further, I think Dance Dance Revolution certainly deserves a slot since it, like Pac Man, broke the mold on video game consumers. Halo 2? Until Halo 3, this title holds the single day sales record in all of entertainment history including movies and books. Lastly, where is Zork? Gary Kasparov Chess? What else is missing my fellow bloggers?

My list would have been significantly better if I had bought into the Zelda, Final Fantasy and Mario lines as they represent a HUGE portion of this list. I was also hurt by never owning a PS2 as many of the key games for that system made this list (Grand Theft Auto, anyone?)

Your thoughts and lists?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Go Elf Yourself

Ok, I admit that I am a sucker for silly web applications as long as they make my kids laugh. This is a cute app that you can do with yourself, family or office workers that you want to make look ridiculous.

Elf Yourself here.