Thursday, March 31, 2005
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Springtime in ParisIt was a long day yesterday. After Eli 3.7 went to bed about 9 p.m., I came back downstairs and worked on the MVP player progression mod for six hours straight. When I was done and I finally stumbled upstairs at 3 a.m., I thought at least I know tomorrow will be better than this.
So today at 11:30 a.m., laying on my side, with my knees drawn up and my doctor's finger up my ass, I thought define better.
Prostate infection, in case you're keeping score at home. Less fun than a barrel of monkeys, unless those monkeys have prostate infections. And if they do, good luck with the exam--you'll need it.
When Eli was version 2.0, he started taking pictures with disposable cameras, which I know I've mentioned before. Then he went through a year or so when cameras didn't interest him much. Now, he's taking pictures again.
Here's what it's like around our house. I wake up this morning and drag myself out of bed around eight. I'm wearing underwear and nothing else, stumbling toward the bathroom, when I hear "Say cheese!"
At breakfast, a mouthful of cereal, trying to jam in a piece of toast at the same time. "Say cheese!"
Tomorrow, I'm joining the YMCA so I have a place to shower.
Just a Minute
Your responses to my post about how long a minute lasts have been very interesting. Of the people who have identified themselves as being on time, only one of them thought a minute lasted longer than it actually did (1:04). Everyone else was below an actual minute, and DQ reader Fong clocked in at an absolutely amazing 59.5 seconds.
Of the laters, every single one thought a minute laster longer than it did. Every single one.
Please keep sending in your results, because this is getting pretty interesting. "In your world," Gloria says.
Dangerous Waters Contest[Contest is now over. See post above for winners. Thanks.]
I have two copies of the Deluxe edition of Dangerous Waters, and I'd like to have a contest to give them away. Because this is a naval simulation, I want the contest itself to help identify people who would really enjoy the game. So I asked DQ reader and Sonalysts Associate Producer Jamie Carlson, and he responded with a few questions to weed out the weak, so to speak. And here they are:
1. Which anti-submarine platform in Dangerous Waters is also highly capable in performing reconnaissance and surveillance missions due to its ability to fly at high altitudes and its long-range sensor ability?
2. What is a common nickname for the Kilo Improved class diesel submarine for its quietness and proficiency to remain undetected (or just "disappear") from its enemies?
3. Which modern U.S. nuclear attack submarine is equipped with multiple Vertical Launch (VLS) tubes for long-range land strike and anti-surface capability?
If you're interested in the game and the contest, but baffled by the questions, here's a hint: try the game's website (http://www.battlefront.com/products/dw/index.html).
First two entries to correctly answer all three questions will win a copy of the game.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Niagara Falls All Over AgainOne of the most brilliantly written novels I've read in a long time is Elizabeth McCracken's Niagara Falls All Over Again. The story of a straight man in a vaudeville comedy team, it is so well and carefully written that it's impossible to put down. McCracken also wrote The Giant's House, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, but this book is better.
McCracken also does one other thing that just amazes me. Traditionally, male authors don't write particularly convincing female characters, and vice versa. This is probably the best, most thoughtful portrait of a male character by a female author that I've ever read.
It's very dark, very funny, very warm, and very human. Kind of like life.
One MinuteEli 3.7 asked me today how long a minute lasted. I asked him long he thought a minute lasted. "It lasts twenty!" he said.
By the way, Eli went yard, upper deck, and house today. I was pitching a white plastic ball to him in the back yard, and he took his black plastic bat and tape-measured me. The ball landed on the second-story roof. It was a rocket. The sound the ball made coming off the bat was so loud that Gloria turned around when she heard it. CRACK.
But I digress.
I decided to find out if I actually knew how long a minute lasted, so I closed my eyes and timed myself. I opened my eyes at fifty-nine seconds. Then Gloria walked in and she wanted to try.
One minute, fifteen seconds.
"That certainly explains quite a lot," I said.
"Great," she said.
"So when you say 'I thought I had more time,' you really did think you had more time. Twenty-five percent, actually."
"I'm going now," she said.
Gloria, you see, in spite of her hottitude and witty, kind demeanor, is a Later. She's late. Frequently. She always has been, from the moment I met her. Her friends allege that she was like that before I was around.
Now, after ten years, the Rosetta Stone.
Of course she's always late. She thinks a minute lasts twenty-five percent longer than it actually does. So if she needs to be somewhere in thirty minutes, she'll take thirty-seven and a half. An hour? One hour and fifteen minutes.
I stopped trying to figure this out years ago, so it's like a cold case file that's suddenly been reopened with the discovery of new evidence.
Now I'm curious. Was it just an accident?
So if you're always on-time/late and your spouse is the opposite, see how long each of you thinks a minute lasts. I'm guessing that the timely people will be much closer to the true measure of a minute than a later. Send me an e-mail and I'll tally the results.
Pure Pwnage: Episode 6The funniest satirists of video game life on the Web are back with a new episode. It's hilarious and one of my two favorites, along with the episode where they introduce the "Boom! Headshot!" character (episode three). The download can take a while, and the episodes last nearly ten minutes, but believe me, it's truly funny.
Oh, and if you play World of Warcraft, you are required by law to go view this episode immediately.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Welcome to the NCAA RegionalI was very fortunate this weekend.
My friend had an extra ticket to the NCAA Regionals in Austin. An excellent ticket. One he gave to me. So I saw all three games this weekend, and it was quite a thrill.
I was sitting eighteen rows away from courtside, and I was just behind the backboard when the basketball bounced five times on the rim before going in at the end of regulation in the Kentucky-Michigan St. game.
One of the things that it's impossible to appreciate on television is just how fast and powerful these guys are. The court looks big on television, but it looks like a shoebox when these guys are gobbling up space. It's shocking.
Two sports-related notes before I get to the stories. One, Michigan St. is an amazing team. Every single guy they put on the floor can finish--if any of them get any space, any at all, they're shooting a three or going to the rack. No hesitation. They're going to be very, very tough to beat. Two, Andrew Bogut is absolutely the real deal. He has the best footwork I've seen from a big man in college in at least ten years (maybe all the way back to Bill Walton), and his fundamentals are impeccable. He'll be one of the top ten centers in the league very quickly, and he would be freakishly hard to defend as a power forward. He didn't have a great game against Kentucky, but he's clearly a tremendous player.
Now, a few anecdotes:
IMPORTED FROM RENO?
Every team has its own seating section, and it runs from the floor to the top row. So there are four giant stripes of color in the arena, which really looks tremendous. One of the teams in the regional was Utah, and just for fun I decided to take a look with my trusty pocket binoculars to check the overall female hottitude of that area.
Now if you're a hot chick from Utah, let me apologize in advance.
Their section represented over a thousand people. No hot chicks. I mean none. As in zero.
Which is not as funny as their cheerleaders. They were wearing so much makeup that it looked like it was spackled on, and the amount of blush was so insane it made them look like wooden puppets or something. They looked like they came from another profession, so to speak.
BUT THEY MIGHT BE TOO DRUNK TO FISH
I think their were only three drunks in the Erwin Center, and they sat behind us. I think their motto was "If we're not too drunk to find our seats, we're not too drunk." Included in this group of three was Inappropriate Man, who I'm sure you've all seen at your local events. He's the guy who flashes his man boobs at the Queen when her carriage rolls by, or uses the word "tits" as often as polite people say "please" and "thank you." That guy. He was right behind us.
FIFTY DOLLARS SAYS YOU'RE WRONG
Ashley Judd is a huge Kentucky basketball fan. She was at the games, sitting no more than fifty yards away from me.
What do you mean, did I look at her with my binoculars during t.v. timeouts? What kind of low-class loser do you think I am?
Hell yes, I did. Every chance I got. It's Ashley Judd, man. She's a 10 who's a sports fan, which makes her a 12. Nigel Tufnel's amp doesn't even go that high.
You see pictures all the time of celebrities who look like total ass in person. Ashley Judd, if anything, is even hotter in jeans and a t-shirt than she is in her films. No makeup needed.
There were several thousand pairs of binoculars in the Erwin Center, and I guarantee that ninety percent of them were trained on her during timeouts. At least, my highly informal survey of seven had a hundred percent hit rate. And she was cool. She was sitting in the stands like a regular person (a regular person with damned good seats), and she was shouting the cheers and singing the songs and just being a sports fan. No bodyguards, no entourage, just a nice lady who enjoys basketball.
My friend Neile said "She's not so hot."
I said, "Are you STONED? She's so hot that you can't even see the border of hot from where she's standing. The border of hot is like in Norway and she's here."
Neile said "She's not really that hot."
"She's not?" I asked. "I've got fifty bucks in my pocket, and if you can find ONE woman in this 17,000 seat arena who's hotter than she is, it's your money."
I still have my fifty bucks.
I THINK SHE WAS A KENTUCKY FAN
One of the nicest things I saw all weekend was a very old lady who sat about five seats down from me. I think she was probably in her eighties, very tiny, and she walked all hunched over like old people sometimes do. During timeouts, she pulled out this ancient, yellowed paperback and read until the game started again.
And she was wearing a warm-up suit. I don't know if it gets any cooler than that at eighty--watching an NCAA regional in a warm-up suit.
I hope she enjoyed the game.
To Luna, SincerelyI saw this on the back of a Luna Bar wrapper yesterday:
To Allison: Strong, smart, unique, and beautiful.
--Estelle C. Torrington, CT
It's a "Luna dedication." You can send in your own at www.Lunabar.com.
This is a test message. Do I hit send now? How do I double-click? This mouse has five buttons.
Oh hey, Darlene. I know I said I would call you, but I've been really busy at work. But that one night was great. Okay, see you.
Ted in Accounting
Son, I'm sorry but the dog is dead.
Eli 3.7 Plus Unknown Kid Bonus StoryI found a couple of Eli 3.7 stories that I'd written down on various scraps of paper during the trip.
I planned on taking Eli to a Barnes and Nobles bookstore to look around while Gloria attended Neva's funeral on Monday morning. Eli liked hiding in the closet in our hotel room (the kind with the sliding mirrored doors), and he was in there while Gloria dried her hair. When she was done, she said in a stage voice "I don't see Eli. He must have already gone to Barnes and Nobles."
Eli 3.7 shouted "NO, I'M JUST HERE IN THE CLOSET."
After he came out, he saw Gloria and did a double-take. I don't think he's ever seen Gloria in panty hose before, and she was wearing black hose for the funeral. "Mommie, where are your legs?" he asked. After she stopped laughing, he started tapping her on the shin, moving upward, then shouted "HEY! I FOUND YOUR KNEE!"
This morning, Gloria and I went to observe at a pre-school that Eli might attend in the fall (I can't even believe I'm writing that). There was a little boy with a Beatles haircut who was eating a poppy seed muffin for a snack. He smiled at me, held out the muffin, pointed to the poppy seeds, and said "Hey! They look like bugs!"
Friday, March 25, 2005
Burning Down WhateverI've also received some e-mail about the "Burning Down the House" session at GDC. I thought it deserved a separate post entirely.
First off, from Thom Moyles (who writes for www.gamecritics.com and is excellent):
I was reading your take on the GDC Developer's Rant and as I was actually in attendance, I thought I'd pass along what I got out of it. I felt that Warren and Brenda were actually a lot more reasonable than what came across in the transcript. A lot of their salient points were not included, whereas their bombast was transcripted verbatim. More specifically, Brenda had a very good point about mobile gaming and how important it can be not only in terms of independent development but in terms of changing how games are designed. She certainly had a lot more to say than Costikyan.
Jason Della Rocca was my favorite though. He had a ton of really good things to say and it's a shame that his statements were mainly overlooked in favor of Costikyan (who had better one-liners).
Thom followed up a few hours later with these expanded comments:
The GDC doesn't do any official transcript (which is very frustrating, especially when you have a Japanese speaker who goes far too fast for the translators), and it's left up to attendees to transcribe themselves either from their notes or their recordings...and portions are definitely going to get dropped when you do that.
And you should check out Costikyan's blog, where he does talk about the session somewhat: http://www.costik.com/weblog/. The 'damning' line for me in his blog is where he admits that the Nintendo keynote was actually excellent and that Iwata truly came across as a game designer who happens to be running a company (as opposed to Allard, who comes across as a marketer who happens to be running a game company). I think his quote was 'I was way too harsh on Nintendo and Iwata in general, but I couldn't resist using the line, it was too good.'
The best session of GDC was actually the one featuring Keita Takahashi, the producer of Katamari Damacy. If you can find a transcript or an article about his talk, I would reccommend tracking it down, as it's excellent.
Aaron Daily also had some comments about the blog post I linked to yesterday from Matt Mihaly:
I had to laugh when I read this one. It might as well have been written by a board-game designer... This guy claims you can make video games any way you want, but he's not making video games, or doing anything most video game developers want to do.
Fair enough. As far as I can tell, Matt does make text-based MUDS, although I still think some of his comments were on target.
And thanks to all of you guys for being so thoughtful, both in these comments and in my e-mail in general.
One MoreI forgot this very funny note from Ian Pottmeyer in reference to my Crate and Barrel item descriptions post last week:
Crate and Barrel has competition from Nokia in the Department of Ridiculous Product Descriptions. From http://www.nokia.com/nokia/0,8764,62371,00.html:
When twilight falls, prowl the night with the mysterious Nokia 7280 phone. Shrouded in the mystery is a passion that will only reveal itself as you slide it open. Its sublime form is exquisitely crafted, leaving you with a slim, sleek object of beauty, unmatched by any other. You and the Nokia 7280 phone, a combination that's as compelling as the night.
Okay, I'm begging all of you now. If you have to write descriptions like this for a living, please e-mail me and tell me how you do it without developing some kind of substance dependency. I mean it.
Tales From the InboxAs always, my e-mail is substantially delicious and leaves no aftertaste.
LPMiller, Editor in Chief of the fabulous www.gotapex.com, had some keen observations on the PSP vs. Gameboy wars:
Here's the thing about technically raising the bar-Sega raised the bar too, with the Game Gear and the Nomad. NEC raised the bar with the Turbo Grafix. Atari raised the bar with the Lynx.
Yet the original, black and white Gameboy beat them all.
This is one market Nintendo KNOWS. Portables were never about the tech, but about the convenience, and the games. Sony forgets this, and is really pulling a Sega here.
With any Nintendo portable, you have an instant library of thousands of games. You have a good battery life. And you have a machine that does one thing well - play games on the go.
With the PSP, you have great tech, but you have a high price, you have a limited library, you have a proprietary movie format that costs as much as DVD, you have a not very pocket friendly size. You have a unit trying to do too many things at once. Sony may very well take over the portable market someday - one thing they can do is afford to screw up. But this ain't it. The secret to a portable is A) being a portable, b) being affordable for those that only game sometimes, c) the games, stupid.
Those are interesting comments--I don't agree with them, necessarily, but they're very interesting and it's certainly a plausible scenario. My problem with the GBA is that even if there are a thousand games for it, they all have to be played on a tiny screen with weak-ass graphics and crappy sound. It might as well be a million games--I don't care. But my problem with the GBA is certainly not shared by most consumers, because that little system with a tiny screen and weak-ass graphics is a gold mine.
Douglas Bonderud writes in reference to "Squares 2" :
I decided to give it a try. Sure enough, the game was maddeningly addictive, and I actullay managed to achieve a score of 146 squares before being wiped out. (damn red squares...you'll get yours!) I believe I am also now legally blind, and will likely wake up in the middle of the night, covered in a cold sweat as I see a malevolent red square bearing down on me.
I felt that my geekish achivement had to be shared with the world, and you seemed a likely candidate to appreciate such a feat.
I do indeed appreciate it, as I played the game for fifteen minutes, only reached 84 squares, and felt jittery like I'd drunk ten cups of coffee.
Dave Kramer sent me a link to his initial impressions of the PSP, which are thorough. You can also check out his site at the same time:http://www.gamestay.com/categories/blog/2005/03/24.html.
Elizabeth Donaldson writes:
I am working on your tax return and we are missing cost basis for the sale of of Dell stock.
Excuse me. That was not in reference to this column.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Burning Down Something Or OtherThanks to DQ reader John Morris for sending me a link to an additional commentary about the "Burning Down the House" session at the GDC. This commentary is by Matt Mihaly and it's very interesting. Here's the link:
Wow. Just Wow.WASHINGTON - A 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil dug out of a hunk of sandstone has yielded soft tissue, including blood vessels and perhaps even whole cells, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.
That's mind-boggling. And it gets even better:
Of course, the big question is whether it will be possible to see dinosaur DNA. "We don't know yet. We are doing a lot in the lab now that looks promising," Schweitzer said.
Here's the link to the full article (with pictures):
Electronic Arts: Everybody Out of the PoolI apologize in advance for quoting myself from a previous post, but here's what I wrote about Electronic Arts in January:
EA can't keep growing at its current rate. It's much, much easier for a company to go from one billion to three billion in revenue than it is to go from three billion to nine billion. At some point, scale just eats you up. And as your growth goes down, so does your P/E, and as that happens, the stock price starts to deflate. I believe it's entirely possible that this $65 stock price might be as high as EA gets, at least for the next several years.
Sexy company, growing quickly but starting to strain, sees itself as vulnerable. What do they do? They sell. As fast as they can.
Well, they waited too long. Here's a news blurb from Tuesday:
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) - Shares of Electronic Arts, the world's largest videogame publisher, dropped 13 percent Tuesday morning after it said sales and profit for the fiscal year ending in March would be below its prior forecast due to weak sales in North America.
And here's an excerpt from another story:
"Certain EA franchises have performed poorly and are showing signs of fatigue," wrote Bear Stearns analyst R. Glen Reid in a note to clients.
The stock is bumping around in the $55 range now. This is either a blip in the radar or a dam breaking. I think the story two months ago about EA looking to get into television was a major red flag. Whenever fast-growing companies suddenly start looking for growth drivers well outside their expertise, it's usually a sign, to some degree, of desperation.
Nintendo GBA/Sony PSPI don't have much interest in actually buying a PSP--somehow portables have never grabbed my fancy at all--but I think the strategic battle between Sony and Nintendo is going to be very interesting. Nintendo has made an absolute fortune putting out technologically underpowered units at a low price point with huge numbers of available games. I'm not sure they can do that now. Sony has significantly raised the bar technically, and once it's been raised, it's hard to go back.
Nintendo has been excellent historically when they've been first into a space--the original NES (first in the space in that era, anyway), the GameBoy. They have been far less successful when competitors have moved in. They're third in the console market in the U.S. now, it's doubtful they'll be second anytime soon, and now Sony has entered the handheld space. I wonder if Nintendo has learned any lessons from the last decade of consoles, or if they're even capable of learning from anyone. Nintendo is a funky, impenetrable company, sometimes brilliant but often just weird.
Fry's AdHere's yet another reason why I love Fry's.
If you've never seen a Fry's ad, it's laid out in a grid pattern, and there's a product in each block. Here's what one four-block section advertised in today's paper.
Top left: Polk Audio 12-inch subwoofer
Bottom left: Maytag front loading dishwasher
Top right: 1GB PC3200 DDR memory
Bottom right: Pepper spray
That's right: a subwoofer, a dishwasher, DDR memory, and pepper spray. All in one convenient location.
I Do Not Know You, SirI walked into the grocery store today and a well-dressed stranger came out waving a Coke can and semi-shouting at me. "I nearly wrecked my car this morning when I drove by and saw that gas was $2.14 a gallon!" he yelled.
I thought Dude, don't worry. You'll get another chance soon.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
New at the CinemaI just saw this story teaser over at IGN for a new Nicolas Cage movie:
Cage on Ghost Rider
It's like Evil Knievel meets Faust
Wow. It's like my vomit meets more vomit.
The House Can't Burn Down When All You People Do Is CryI've been thinking about the "Burning Down the House--Game Developers Rant" session at the IGDA that's been given so much publicity.
Here's a link to a transcript, by the way:
This session has gotten everyone up in arms and the villagers are storming Frankenstein's castle.
Blah, blah, blah, blah. Cry me a river. What an assortment of whiny little babies.
Now every single one of these people might be totally nice, kind human beings, but as far as this transcript reads, they're a bunch of whiny little babies.
First up, Warren Spector. A gaming legend. The series he's been involved with are legendary: Wing Commander, Ultima, Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Thief. What an incredible series of titles. Oh, and Deus Ex.
Here's his opening salvo:
I want to say how this business is hopelessly broken. Haha. We’re doing pretty much everything wrong. This is at the root of much of what you’re gonna hear today. Games cost too much. They take too long to make.
Sure, to some degree. But the real problem is that after costing too much and taking too long to make, many of them, like Deus Ex: Invisible War, are still shitty.
I mean, come on. That was one of the most severely compromised game designs I've ever seen. It was barely a beta when it was released on the PC. And here's a theme that's going to wind through this entire transcript: these people are going to whine about everything related to them, but is anyone going to mention that many of these people aren't actually FINISHING the games? Is anyone going to mention that developers are responsible for delivering finished products to consumers? Are any of them going to say that many of them are failing the consumer?
Don't hold your breath.
We’re the only medium that lacks an alternate distribution system. All we have is boxed games sold at retail. This is changing a little. But think about our competition for your entertainment dollar. First run, broadcast, reruns, DVDs.. you name it. Hardback, paperback, e-book. Theatre release, pay-per-view, video, DVD.
Sure. But all those alternative distribution mechanisms for films took decades to evolve. And there's already a hardback/paperback system--games get re-released all the time at a lower price point after their initial run.
Now he does go on to talk about divorcing funding from distribution, and I think that's a very interesting discussion, particularly his reference to the studio system with films. Primarily, he says that if the people who funded games and the people who distributed games were different, that we would have more diverse content. A thoughtful moment. Briefly.
Here's the last bit from Spector:
At the very worst we need publishers to ask more than that one question: is this going to generate max profit? For most games this is NOT THE RIGHT QUESTION.
That cracks me up. Let me get this straight. That's EXACTLY what happened to Deus Ex: Invisible War. They dumbed down the gameplay to sell more copies. And they crippled the PC version because they wanted to make a console version to, drum roll, sell more copies.
And they did, I'm sure. And Warren Spector cashed the checks. All of them. So he's been enriched (far beyond what he could have ever expected a decade ago) by the same system he's so righteously torching. And again, did he mention us? Did he mention that DX:IW wasn't "finished" in any reasonable sense of the word? Of course not.
Next is Jason Della Rocca, and here's his bio page from Moby Games
(http://www.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId=15965/). He says two things that are very true: one, that the gaming industry is zenophobic in terms of learning from other businesses and industries in terms of optimizing development, and that gaming journalism is broken. Nothing revolutionary, but still interesting. And he doesn’t really say anything stupid, which should get him some kind of award in this panel.
Then there's Greg Costikyan. Here's a list of games he's designed from his very self-flattering website (http://www.costik.com/ludograf.html). He does not appear in Moby Games. Here's one of his blasts:
As recently as 1992: games cost 200K. Next generation games will cost 20m. Publishers are becoming increasingly risk averse. Today you cannot get an innovative title published unless your last name is Wright or Miyamoto. Who was at the Microsoft keynote? I don’t know about you but it made my flesh crawl. [laughter] The HD era? Bigger, louder? Big bucks to be made! Well not by you and me of course. Those budgets and teams ensure the death of innovation.
Well, to start with, making a blanket statement that next-generation games will cost 20M basically means he pulled a number out of his ass. Nobody really knows how much next-generation games will cost yet, and there are so many different types of games that trying to apply a single figure to development costs is useless. Yes, games are continually getting more expensive to make, but the market of consumers who buy games has exploded in the last five years.
Can't get innovative titles published? Big budgets and teams "ensure" the death of innovation? Look, there are people who innovate, and there are people who can't and cry about it. Katamari Damancy was wonderfully innovative. Darwinia is absolutely sensational. There are just as many innovative games, or more, than there were back in the 1980's-1990's. It's a smaller percentage of total games, sure, but there are many more games out there now. And there's not as much uncharted territory left, either.
And it's a lot of self-righteous complaining from a guy who's never, as far as I can tell from his website, had anything to do with an innovative PC game. Ever.
People who can innovate will innovate. That is the nature of innovation.
And again, any words about games getting released in late alpha or early beta condition and never patched to completion? Funny, total silence on that issue.
Here's his last assault:
Then there was the Nintendo keynote. This was the company who established the business model that has crucified the industry today. Iwata-san has the heart of a gamer, and my question is what poor bastard’s chest did he carve it from?
It's pretty funny to complain about Nintendo when you've designed such "innovative" titles as "Manhattan Address Locator."
Oh, all right. That was a low blow. I just thought it was funny. And he deserved it after that “heart carving” comment, which was just as low. I get as tired as anyone else of Nintendo putting out systems where people breathe into magic blowholes to move characters onscreen, and games where magic mushrooms try to save the diseased giraffe, but sometimes they do innovate, and brilliantly.
The new consoles aren't the end of the gaming industry. Games are always going to use the most powerful technology that can be used within price constraints. If that's just too much for you, then go design some CGA games and I'm sure millions of people will rush to download them.
Brenda Laurel spoke next and here's what she said:
My thesis is that we are contributing to the damage that the spectacle does to human beings by suggesting the interactivity of a joystick is real agency.
Games keep essential social myths in place. So we have tropes in our business. Criminals are cool. The commercial game business is a non-consensual relationship between middle aged men and young boys. It’s worse than the Catholic Church.
Really? Is that why GTA sells millions of copies on the first day of release? Because it's non-consensual? Because it sounds pretty damn consensual to me. I have many issues with the GTA series and the losers who put in gameplay "features" like beating hookers to death, then refuse to answer questions about why or assume any accountability for what they've created. But it's no different for the makers of violent films or television shows. I don't like that our culture is so violent, but it is what it is. And it's definitely consensual.
FREE MARKETS EXIST TO SATISFY DEMAND. America is a very market driven country, probably one of the most market-driven in the entire world. And those games get made because people buy them. And they'll keep getting made. And there is an entirely legitimate discussion to be had about the consequences of near-absolute Constitutional freedom when creating content of any kind, but there are other, possibly far darker consequences of restricting it.
Oh, and by the way. It was particularly brilliant to compare priests molesting children to people going out and paying money for a game. Outstanding clarity of thought there. After that keen insight, my thesis is that you should never speak in front of any group larger than a dinner party again.
On the positive side, though, "trope" is a very nice word.
And yet again, is there any mention of how many games are released unfinished? Absolutely not! What do we matter, anyway?
Now I know this was an industry bitch session, and usually those things devolve into ranting, anyway. But the amount of positive publicity this session and these comments have gotten is just ludicrous.
Notes to Assorted Retailers Along the Road From Austin to Shreveport1. I know that "acceleratory" is a word, but it doesn't sound like one. So using the phrase "Acceleratory Learning Center" for your children's daycare sounds suspicious, like you're just making words up. I expect you to break out with "accelerization" or "accelerism" or "acceleroscopy" any second now. Consider "accelerated" instead. It's a nice word.
2. When your sign reads "Extreme Detail Auto Detailing," And "Extreme" is missing the "x" and "m," that's just wrong. Maybe you should hook up with the Acceleratory Learning Center.
3. I had no idea there was a market for a combination Golf Course/RV Park, but I salute your ingenuity, sir. Could you please fax me the ruling on relief if my ball rolls under the lawn chair of a shirtless, sweating retiree?
4. If your billboard says "All shoes from $11.99 to $13.99," you might consider just charging $12.99 for everything. Think of the time you'd save pricing merchandise. Plus is anyone really going to go "These $13.99 shoes are sweet, but I just know I can find a pair like them for $11.99 if I keep looking"?
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
ShreveportThis is kind of an awkward, jumbled column, because it was an awkward, jumbled kind of trip.
Gloria is over at her grandmother's house, spending some time there with her brother and aunt to say farewell to a place that has meant to much to all of them. Eli 3.7 is with his grandmother, which allows me, for the first time in a few days, to write.
Which feels good.
I used to need hours to get "in the mood" to write. I convinced myself that it was necessary "to the process." Actually, it was just lazy. I can write more in half an hour now than I could in three hours back then. That whole tortured young artist jacket always fit very awkwardly on me. I'm just not shaped like that. Not anymore.
I've been thinking about Neva while we've been here. I didn't go to the funeral because someone needed to be with Eli and I was the natural choice. So Eli has been kind of a little bubble around me, shielding me from the most explicit moments of grief.
I think every person must define their lives in their own terms. I'm not sure how I'd define mine. Neva defined her life in terms of how many people she loved and how many loved her. Her house was always full of life, full of people--some family, some not, but everyone was welcome.
I remember something very distinctive about Neva, and it's my favorite memory of her. She told hundreds of stories about her life, and almost every single one was happy. Being the first family in her town to have a motorcar, and her daddy teaching her to drive it when her feet could barely reach the pedals. Getting a little bag of fresh oranges for Christmas. There were plenty of sad moments in her life, some crushingly so, but she barely mentioned them. Every story was happy and life was a great adventure.
Her funeral was small, for even though she made many people happy, she outlived almost all of them. That seems like the best of all possibilities: live a happy life and outlive your mourners.
When Gloria went to see her in the hospital last week, she wasn't lucid on the first day, but on the second her mind cleared and she saw all the people who had come to see her. And when she could talk, she told them how much she had enjoyed her life and how she loved her family. Even near her passing, she found a way to be what she had always been.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
And AnotherThis ad was for "Strattera," a new drug that treats Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. I thought that used to be called "marriage."
Anyway, the announcer starts reading the possible side effects, and it goes on and on. And on. Here they are:
--liver problems (rarely)
--sexual side effects
Are you kidding me? This isn't a drug. It's a disease.
DeflataI've been watching the NCAA Tournament when I can, and the advertising is just driving me nuts. I usually have everything Tivo'd, but since I'm just watching in bursts, I'm watching it live.
Can anyone in this country still get an erection? Because with all the "erectile dysfunction" ads, I have to wonder. I expect there to be a coffe-table book titled 24 Hours of Impotence Across America any day now.
My favorite part is where the announcer, in hushed tones, says "If your erection lasts longer than four hours, you should seek medical attention."
Hang on, Sparky. You might want to wave the checkered flag on that bad boy before you hit the four freaking hour mark. Holy crap.
I'm sure that for some couples, these drugs have been wonderful. But I wonder about the women who are less than pleased when their husband has a four hour erection. That's an awful lot of, well, erection.
So I think there's an untapped market for another drug that would counter the effects of Viagra.
I can see the ad in my mind: a husband in Dockers and a button-down shirt with a gleam in his eye as he gives his wife a box of lingerie and shakes the box of Viagra at her. She smiles politely, but as you see him taking the pill in the background, you see her taking out her own prescription.
For Deflata. Or Vagigra.
You see her slipping the crushed pill into his glass of wine. Cut to a scene in bed where he looks sheepish and they share a warm embrace. He shrugs his shoulders and she smiles.
Then he's asleep and she's next to him watching Jay Leno and laughing uproariously. She picks up a huge book and begins to read with a beatific, calm look on her face. In the background, you can hear "What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love."
Pickles"Stop! You are in grave danger!"
I was eating pancakes at the time.
Eli 3.7 was in fine form this morning. We were talking about pickles--I don't remember why--and I explained how sour dill pickles were. Then we said "Daddy, would you like PANCAKES with a PICKLE inside, with SAUERKRAUT, with SOUR, SOUR, and EXTRA SOUR?"
"I think I'd want just a little bit more sour."
"More SOUR? You are crazy, Daddy."
Pancakes, burned chicken, macaroni, spaghetti, ice cream--now with pickles.
Weekend Bonus ContentWell, maybe "bonus" isn't the right word, but I'm going to write a few items to make up for no new content Monday/Tuesday when we're out of town. Here it comes.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Batman: New TimesDQ reader Ron Watkins sent me a link to an absolutely amazing video. It's a Batman movie--made entirely with Legos. And it's sensational.
This link has been posted in multiple places the last few days, so the server may be getting hit pretty hard, but here it is:
Squares 2Thanks to John Harwood for sending me a link to the latest addictive Flash game. It's practically hypnotic, as good Flash games tend to be, and you can find it here:
John got to 100 squares. How anyone can do that, I'll never know.
Fight Night Round 2 (Xbox): The Sweet Science
When Fight Night came out last year, I remember writing that it was one of the best-designed sports games I'd ever played. Everything was absolutely first-rate, in fact, except the speed of the action. It was frantic, ridiculously so, and it was a deal-breaker. It made a great game into a waste of time very quickly.
So I had very low expectations for Fight Night Round 2. Not interested. Then I saw it at a PS2 kiosk in a local EB about a week before its release and played for a few minutes. Much to my surprise, the game was significantly slower and felt entirely playable. Now, thanks to Gamefly, I've put in about ten hours with the game and it is a superb sequel. The game design is even better than last year, the boxing is far more enjoyable, and there are a slew of new features that have been needed in a boxing game for a long, long time. So what makes this game so much better than last year's version?
1. Flash knockdowns. I don't think these have ever been included in a graphics-based boxing game. Traditionally, you pound on your opponent, his health and stamina bars go down, and when they're empty he gets knocked down. Very, very linear. This year, FINALLY, there are flash knockdowns. One great punch can put your opponent (or you) on the canvas. They don't happen very often, but just the fact that they can makes the game more interesting.
2. Physical damage. It is incredible to see the fighter's faces and the damage they take in this game. Stunning, really. And, as part of the outstanding game design, you see this damage up close, because in-between rounds there is a mini-game that allows you to heal your boxer. The idea of taking an outstanding feature (realistic facial damage) and incorporating it into a mini-game to highlight it is sensational game design.
3. Uncertainty. Again, most boxing games are very linear. You're either better or you're not, and then it's an inevitable march to a conclusion and RSI. In this game, at the higher difficulty levels rounds ebb and flow in much more realistic fashion than I've ever seen before.
4. Knockdowns. For years I've been complaining that there is no drama in boxers recovering from knockdowns--they're either guaranteed to get up, or there's an animation very early in the count that tips off what's about to happen. Now, boxers sometimes get to their feet but can't stay standing, and there are enough different animations that it's impossible to know in advance.
5. Game speed. There's no question that the pace is still higher than real boxing, and sometimes significantly so, but it's so much slower and more manageable than last year. It's possible to stick and move with the jab this year. And there's no need to throw hundreds of punches a round.
6. Analog punching. A brilliant innovation last year, it works even better this year, and includes "Haymakers" with either hand. It's the best interface innovation in sports games since Headgate Studios invented the mouse swing for golf games.
7. Animation. Already very impressive last year, the quality of the animation this year is off the charts.
8. The clinch. Again, new for this year. It works extremely well and is another example of how the design team has captured far more of the complexity of boxing tactics this year.9. Getting off the canvas. Last year, you had to make two blurry images converge (clearing your head, in other words) to recover from a knockdown. Trying to line up two images using the analog stick was tremendously difficult, and there was no way to practice. This year, you still line up two images, but not with each other--there's a target in the center. It's much more fair and much more balanced.
9. A.I. Opponents understand how to cut off the ring. They know how to cover up when they're in trouble and they know how to clinch.
10. Corner men. You'll have one, and he'll talk to you about how the fight is going and what you need to do. The advice, impressively, is very context-sensitive in terms of how you've been performing.
11. Polish. This game is so polished, it gleams. It has the same level of polish as the NBA Street series, which is high praise.
I've seen several reviews that talk about "Haymaker" punches and how easy they are to throw. Since they do more damage than a regular punch, it unbalances the game, they say. This is a very easy way to tell how long the reviewer played the game, because that dynamic only exists on "Easy" difficulty. So if they say the Haymaker ruins the game, they played it for a few hours on Easy and wrote the review. And it's true that on Easy level, Haymakers unbalance the game to some degree. It's a good difficulty level for beginners, though, and Haymakers are fun to throw. As soon as you move up to even Medium difficulty, Haymakers are far more difficult to land and are likely to get you punched in the face. Fights on Medium difficulty last far longer, they're brutal, and they're draining. Seeing your fighter in the corner between rounds with his face all torn up, frantically trying to heal him via the mini-game so that he can continue, is just brilliant.
Without one unfortunate and significant flaw, Fight Night Round 2 would be a runaway candidate for Sports Game of the Year in 2005. And it still might be, but in spite of how near-perfect the design of this game is, there is one huge mistake: the camera angles. They suck. Just like NBA Street Vol. 3, it's remarkable how every single camera angle is inadequate. And it's also remarkable that, just as in the NBA Street series, the camera angles were fine in the last version. The awkward placement of the available cameras also means that moving around the ring may induce camera movement and rotation that's tremendously annoying. It's a ridiculous mistake to make with a game that otherwise features such uniformly excellent design.
Even with the camera issues, though, the game is remarkably compelling, a beautiful representation of the sweet science.
ScheduleI found out this morning that we'll be leaving on Sunday The funeral for Gloria's grandmother is on Monday and we're coming back on Tuesday. I had a few items already written that I'll post shortly, and then I'll be writing again on Wednesday.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Sad NewsGloria's grandmother passed away this morning. She was a fine woman, kind and sunny, and she lived her life without regrets, one of the few people I've ever known who could truly do so. I think she was happy almost every day of her life.
We'll be leaving for Shreveport tomorrow or Saturday. I don't know if I'll write anything else until we get back.
Gloria’s grandmother had moved into a rest home recently because her home was in a neighborhood that had grown so dangerous in the last ten years that it just wasn’t safe for her to live there anymore. Gloria sat down and wrote her a letter, and she’s letting me publish some of it here. It somehow makes both of us feel a little better that more people will know about how special her grandmother was. I hope it reminds some of you of your own grandparents, and if you’re lucky enough to still have them around, maybe you could give them a call.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
I will always be grateful for all the wonderful days we shared at your house over the years. I think some of my happiest moments in childhood were spent there. Of course I remember playing in your “pantry,” which you sacrificed to give me a playhouse, also known as Doris’ Restaurant, the art studio etc. etc. (Even though I served Glenn kerosene water in the café that time, it still was a fine establishment!). Then there were so many other things – Spending the night on Fridays, and waking up to watch Saturday morning cartoons in bed while you made pancakes and bacon. Or sleeping over on a warm evening and lying in bed with the windows open and the breeze coming in. Watching TV in the beanbags with Glenn. Sitting around the kitchen table on Sunday afternoons with you, Mama and Peggy, gossiping and clipping coupons or painting Granddaddy’s wooden creations. Eating all those fresh vegetables from the garden. Playing with Tiger, Miss Kitty and Penny and all the other animal members of the family. Trying on all the old clothes in your closet (mostly Peggy’s) and pretending to be a fashion model.
Mostly I liked the feeling that you and Granddaddy created in the house – it was always so warm and welcoming. Everybody felt at home there and everybody came to visit you. People could just hang out there and not have to be doing anything in particular. Although, of course, we had to eat something while we were there or you wouldn’t be very happy with us! I hope my own home can be like yours someday.
Good-bye, Neva. We love you.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
I'm Fixing the CarEli 3.7 has been running around for half an hour now, breathlessly shouting in his best Louis Armstrong voice, "I'm FIXING the CAR, I'm FIXING the CAR." Of course, he's saying it in speed-speak, so it sounds more like "I'mFIXINGtheCARI'mFIXINGtheCARyepyepI'mFIXINGtheCAR."
Of course we have no idea where that came from.
Kind of a catchy phrase, though. So I figured I'd jump on the mystery train and I said "I'm FIXING the CAR, I'm FIXING--"
"Wait," Eli 3.7 said. "I don't want to hear that anymore."
Viewsonic Announces New LCD'sOver at Extreme Tech, they have some information on new Viewsonic LCD's:
Beginning in the second quarter, Viewsonic Corp. said it will ship a pair of LCD monitors with 4-millisecond response designed for high-performance gaming.
According to the Viewsonic web site, the company will ship two monitors: the 19-inch VX924, as well as the 17-inch VX724...Both monitors will ship in May and June, respectively... Viewsonic is quoting 4-ms gray-to-gray response times for the two new monitors, along with a 5-ms (typical) response time for other gradations.
4 milliseconds? I have no idea how they even did that, but it's amazing. Just over seventeen months ago, I was in heaven because 16ms response time LCD's had finally been introduced.
What, Were the Guys Who Made Custer's Last Revenge Not Available?The Washington Post decided to write an article about developers and video game violence. That's fine. And they generally make an effort to move beyond knee-jerk, reactionary stories that entirely miss the point. Also fine.
The developers they decided to interview about video game violence, though, are the guys who made Postal. Postal. So the asshats from Running With Scissors are in the Washington Post, ostensibly speaking as some kind of subject matter experts on games and violence.
Here's the link:
Great. There's nothing better than talking to the developer equivalent of arm-farts to get penetrating thoughts on a complex issue. The article's author is Arianna Cha, and let me just say this to you, Arianna: don't be expecting the Pulitzer Committee to be calling anytime soon.
Here's a great quote from Vince Desiderio:
"So many people these days are obsessed with vulgarity. Sure you have a gun and sure you can kill, but that shouldn't be the point," adds Vince Desiderio, 51, the company's co-founder.
Dude, people obsessed with vulgarity are your target market. You wouldn't be making your shitty little games if those people didn't exist.
Then there's this:
The success of Postal spawned a new generation of games, one whose goal according to psychology researcher Douglas Gentile is "to basically be a sociopath..." Success, though, depends on pushing the envelope.
Please. These guys don't push the envelope--they pee on it. They make a whoopee cushion look like Shakespeare.
The only plausible explanation I can find for this article is that every other developer on Earth was contacted and absolutely refused to discuss the issue.
Dear Famous Journalists Who Read This Column,
There is a legitimate discussion to be joined concerning the First Amendment rights of content creators versus the negative effects of repeated exposure to violent content. The discussion is not furthered, however, by interviewing asshats. Thank you.
Even More Random Than UsualHumor buried within vulgarity is the whipped cream on pie.
That phrase doesn't go anywhere, not that this column ever does.
For an unknown reason, I was reminded of a story from college this morning. At the time, I was dating a woman whose primary appeal, besides dimples and a slightly crooked smile that I found entirely endearing, was that she was ruthlessly efficient. A waif in steel-toed boots, as it were, a perky autocrat. A friend asked me while I was dating her and all I could say was "Well, she makes the trains run on time."
By the way, all of you people have perfect bowls. The men, anyway. And some of you have to hide them to keep them safe.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
That Will Be Three Dollars, Sir, For a Lifetime of SatisfactionI found the perfect bowl while Gloria was out of town.
You may not think the perfect bowl exists. I tell you plainly that you are wrong. Life has beaten you down, robbed you of your hope, while my endless optimism and sunny disposition have enabled me to remain faithful to the idea that the Platonic notion of "bowl" does, in fact, exist.
At Target. For $2.99. Made of plastic. In red. Baby.
Those of the fairer sex may not understand the importance of a bowl with perfect dimensions. We understand, though. We argue about how silverware feels in our hand, about whether it has just the right heft and balance for consuming large quantities of food.
We do. I had that discussion with Gloria before we got married, when we were looking at silverware patters. I went through them like Rain Man. Then, last Friday at Crate and Barrel, we heard a man talking to his fiancee about how forks felt in his hand.
It was a moment of stunning vindication. I was not alone.
Tonight, Gloria made spaghetti. "I bought some garlic bread," she said, "but it's pretty strong." I'm not a big fan of garlic in anything more than microscopic quantities, because it's so strong that I can't taste anything else, so I approached this bread with extreme prejudice. It had garlic pieces on the bread. That's a guaranteed stinkfest, so I trimmed a few crusts (relatively garlic free) off the bread and took them with me. Then I filled up The Perfect Bowl with pasta, and sat down with the Sports section.
Those crusts were good. So I went back to the counter and asked Gloria is she was going to eat any more bread. When she said "no," I unleashed my genetic ability to innovate and filleted a piece of garlic bread--in reverse. I kept all the crust, even on the bottom, and neatly lifted out a perfect garlic bread fillet--which I discarded.
I sat back down. Gloria looked at me and started laughing. "Oh my God," she said. "You've got the bowl, bread crusts, and the Sports section. It's Heaven." Indeed it was, and you perfect bowl-mockers might keep that in mind.
I worked my way through the entire bowl of spaghetti, and near the end Gloria asked "Do you have a bite problem?"
"A bite problem," she said. "You know, where your top and bottom jaw don't quite line up."
"Does my face look funny?" I asked.
She laughed nervously. "No, no, that's not what I meant. It's just that your chewing was very, um, LOUD, and I thought maybe you had a bite problem." She actually tried for several minutes to dance around the conversation like a delicate flower, afraid that she was being offensive, which was getting funnier and funnier to me.
"Honey," I said, "I'm a guy. Don't ask me if I have a bite problem. Say 'You're loud--shut your pie-hole.' We have problems listening to whole sentences, so just be sure that the words 'loud' and 'shut' are included."
So there it is, my friends. Apparently, at times I can be a very loud chewer.
My bowl, however, is still perfect.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Death Valley in BloomAfter the wettest year on record in California, Death Valley is full of wildflowers.
I'm just as surprised as you are.
Here's a link to some beautiful pictures (view the slide show):
Clue, Meet LessMy very interesting, oddball (oh, there's a big surprise) job consists of analzying large amounts of investment data to find patterns that are tradeable. I'm basically a retarded version of Columbo.
As part of my job, I read all kinds of things written by "authorities." This is, itself, a very dubious term when applied to people who write about investments for a living. It's an old boxing axiom that "styles make fights," and it's never more true than when talking about "authorities" in the investment world. Almost no one (Warren Buffet might be the only present exception) is an expert in all types of markets. Today's genius is tomorrow's clown when market conditions change.
Today, I read an article by Jeremy Siegel, the tremendous popular author of Stocks for the Long Run and widely considered an investment expert. He's so popular that his nickname is "The Wizard of Wharton."
Now Siegel has said some very intelligent things and made some very compelling cases for certain investment scenarios in the past. Here's what he said today (in response to the question quoted below) in an article on TheStreet.com:
Last Thursday was the anniversary of the peak of the Nasdaq. What are some of your takeaways from the bubble's collapse?
I think the big takeaway is that large-cap stocks should never carry P/E ratios over 100.
Wow again. Wizard? Of what? Saying that is about as bright as the guy who has a wreck going 120 mph on the freeway, and when the judge asks him if he's learned anything, he says "I sure have. Never go over 115."
Mr. Siegel, Wharton's calling. They want their wand back.
A Curious JuxtapostionOn Friday night, Gloria and I went to "Crate and Barrel."
Crate and Barrel is an upscale store that sells something. I'm not exactly sure what. It seemed to be a bit of everything in four colors: ice blue, lime green, orange orange, and lemon yellow. If you buy one thing there, you have to buy ten others to match, because you're not finding those colors anywhere else.
It's a very nice, meticulously merchandised store, but it's so perfect that it seems shallow. If the Stepford Wives designed a retail store, it would be Crate and Barrel, I think.
They have furniture upstairs, and we wandered up there because Gloria was looking for a bathroom. I was sort of idly wandering around and started reading the descriptions attached to the furniture.
Marketing is a beautiful thing.
I burst out laughing when I read the first description. They were so hopelessly pompous and overbearing that it made my heart sing a little song.
My heart does that. I'm not sure you knew.
So I walked around some more and read a few more absolutely endearing descriptions of wicker baskets evoking the Renaissance masters. You know, stuff like that. Then I saw a small, round table, and here was the attached description:
Weathering the test of time, zinc urns and planters have earned a venerated spot in formal European gardens. Borrowing the bulbous forms and aged patina from these well admired predecessors, this table, used indoors or out, is pregnant with possibility.
Pregnant? What irresponsible piece of furniture did this?
He probably took advantage of her insecurities about her bulbous form.
I decided to track down the bastard, even if it took another five to ten minutes.
Less than ten feet away, there was a long dining room table. Here was the first sentence of its description (and I am not making this up):
Accuse us of cherry-picking, but we chose only the best when creating Sheffield.
Well, at least they've got a name for the baby.
47.6 Units of BachelorI've been baching it with Eli 3.7 for nearly two days now. Gloria's grandmother, who is a happy, kind woman, has emphysema and is gravely ill with a viral infection. Gloria dearly loves her grandmother--between them, they constitute all the spark in their family--and they have a special relationship. She drove to Shreveport because she wanted to be able to see her one last time. Her grandmother is ninety and has a wonderful attitude about everything, even death, and I only hope that if I'm in that situation one day I will handle it with the grace she does.
Eli 3.7 doesn't know about any of this. I'm not sure we could explain any of it in a way that didn't frighten him, so we decided that Gloria would go to Shreveport and I would stay here with Eli. That means Don Knotts has been on duty full-time since Sunday morning.
Here's the scoreboard.
911 calls: 0.
Wendy's meals: 1.
Action figures purchased: 2.
Scooby-Doo episodes viewed: 6.
I knew Eli was missing his mom, so I tried to jam yesterday with plenty of activities, including a trip to a beautiful neighborhood park that is his favorite. The entire park trip consisted of him setting up his Rescue Heroes action figures (Billy Blaze and Jack Hammer, 8" high) at the bottom of a very tall slide (over ten feet). Then he would climb the stairs to the top of the slide, and on his way down, he would yell "INCOMING!" and hit one action figure with each foot. It was the Eli 3.7 community theater interpretation of a scene from the Rescue Heroes movie, and he did it about twenty times in a row. He enjoyed it so much that I laughed every time.
When we started to leave the park, I noticed that everything around us was green. It was a beautiful spring day, with just a hint of coolness in the air, and the sun was sinking near the horizon. Eli 3.7 took my hand and said "Thank you, Daddy. It's been a great day."
I think that might be the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.
Friday, March 11, 2005
So part of the ritual of watching the show was trying to figure out who was going to have some horrific injury.Last night I duplicated a sentence (now corrected) in the ESPN/World's Strongest Man post. Not to worry, though--my friend Paul Costello over at www.groovgames.com was at the ready.
Since I'm a friend who's trying to look out for you while you're probably knee deep in a drug-induced stupor brought on by a combination of muscle relaxants and too much Darwinia, I figured I'd point out a bit of duplication in today's post:
"If you're carrying a refrigator or towing a plane, you don't strain muscles--you obliterate them. So part of the ritual of watching the show was trying to figure out who was going to have some horrific injury.
That whole concept would have made a great children's toy. Load up Marty McAgony with a refrigerator and a railroad car and a bus and at some point, he'll explode. Don't be the last one to give him a tanker to carry!
So part of the ritual of watching the show was trying to figure out who was going to have some horrific injury. And there was always somebody from Iceland, or Sweden, named Magnus V. Magnusson or something like that. Sturdy people, the Swedes."
You know what you should do for the next week? You should work that sentence into every single post you write.
For example: "I've played Darwinia for about 5 hours now and I already feel it's a classic, both retro and well ahead of its time, and just about every other AAA title out there could take a lesson from it in how to create a fun, engaging game. So part of the ritual of watching the show was trying to figure out who was going to have some horrific injury. Not to mention that it's just addictive as hell."
Or: "I was trying to pick french fries up off the floor with my unusually long toes and while wondering aloud how Sam Fisher would handle such a task, Eli wandered in and decided to pee in the corner, which prompted Gloria to say, "So part of the ritual of watching the show was trying to figure out who was going to have some horrific injury?" One of the things I love about my wife is her ability to sum up situations like this so eloquently."
I could go on, but I'm guessing by now you pretty much wish I didn't.
There it is--the official signature phrase of the column.
Under the VolcanoHave you ever seen two really unattractive people in their fifties making out at a gym on a bench beside the swimming pool?
You haven't? Well, just ask me, then. I'm the expert.
I get up this morning and my back is killing me. My stomach has been bothering me, so I slept much more upright than usual. That messed up my back. If I was a car, I'd get broken down and sold for parts.
I'm swimming anyway, though. Gloria suggested that I shouldn't work out because I wasn't feeling well and I said "You don't get fit on the days that you feel like working out. You get fit on the days that you don't." I swear, I actually said that. And I'm not even a motivational speaker or anything. As I was speaking, I kind of stepped outside myself, took a look, and said "Who is THAT dude?"
Here's the funny thing about working out, though, and if you work out frequently, you're going to recognize this--some of the best workouts in my life have come when I'm not feeling well. I read an article once that discussed how many great athletic performances had come when the athlete had a minor illness or wasn't quite right, and it speculated that people were more focused in that situation to try to compensate for their diminished physical condition. I'll never do anything remotely "great" athletically, but in a much smaller way, I've felt that.
The pool felt lousy today. I've felt like Joe Frazier in the pool for about two weeks now. So I'm kind of slogging through it, and I decided I'd stop after half an hour if I didn't feel any better. I get through about twenty-five minutes and it's been awful, and I'm glad I'm only got five minutes to go, and then suddenly I'm in the slot with my stroke. My back hurts, my stomach hurts, I feel lousy, but I'm in, and I can feel it, and I absolutely hammer for about ten minutes before it goes away. I think I got a week's worth of endorphins in that ten minutes. I needed them.
I get out of the water, and my back still hurts, and my stomach still hurts, and I still feel lousy, but I'm a new man. There's a bench at the side of the pool, and I have my towel and swim bag at the end of the bench, so I sit down to dry off and put some of my gear away.
There are two people at the other end of the bench, and by "other end" I mean about four feet away. They're a couple, apparently, and the man is standing with his hand on the woman's shoulder as she sits on the bench. They're both in their fifties, I'm guessing, and they both have kind of a vagely sleazy vibe about them, like it's an ex-pornographer reuniting with an ex-Vegas showgirl.
Pornstache. Big, big hair. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
There is something wrong with their swimsuits, though. Let me try to get a visual for you: imagine two policeman assigned to crowd control, and there are tiny barriers to hold back a thousand people, and then the crowd storms the barricade and breaks through and suddenly they're ALL OVER. The policeman is frantically calling into his radio for backup, but there's nothing else he can do.
Those policeman are swimsuits, and the mobs are bodies, and you can figure it out from there. I'm looking through my gym bag for a tear gas cannister. Dudes in their fifties shouldn't wear banana hammocks for swimsuits. You don't even WANT to know what the woman was wearing.
Now I used the phrase "making out" in the opening. I mean "making out" like you're afraid the ex-pornographer is going to tap you on the shoulder and ask for a condom. I see tongue.
God help me, I see the suggestion of erect nipples pressing against a swimsuit.
At this moment, my survival instinct kicks into gear. Don't look at the hammock. DO NOT look at the hammock.
They're talking in a foreign tongue (see-tongue again), and I'm wondering if I know how to say "Please return all your genitalia to their proper storage containers" in any of the Romance languages.
This has all taken place in less than a minute, and as soon as my gear is packed, I'm gone. The last involuntary glimpse I get indicates that they're going horizontal, and that's a plane I don't want to be on. The Mile High Club will have to leave without me.
Welcome To My Virus, Day TwoStill going to work, still working out, still feel lousy. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow and will be able to put out better content than surreal memories of gigantic men carrying trains.
starspangledhaggisI've been reading a very funny blog called "starspangledhaggis" for several months now. The author is a DQ reader (although I won't out her by giving her name since she just lists "E" in her blog profile). It's very well-written and frequently wildly funny, and if you're on the hunt for something new, it's well worth the read. You can find it here:
Two additional notes. One, she's adopting a daughter from China this week, and her posts from China are tremendous--fascinating and very funny. Two, she is a "liberal" and will occasionally post on politics, so if that kind of content makes your head explode, please steer clear. I don't want your spattered brains on my conscience.
The World's Strongest ManDQ reader Mike Kolar sent me a note about Ivan Putski (mentioned in a post last week):
Ivan Putski turned up on the "The World's Strongest Man" on ESPN one year- in one event there's a particularly gruesome incident where he's doing a 50-yard dash with a refrigerator on his back, and his knee completely gives out. His leg basically collapsed sideways, still gives me the willies just thinking about it.
In 1979, when I was eighteen and a freshman in college, I saw ESPN for the first time. The idea of a channel dedicated twenty-four hours a day to sports was the most fantastic thing I could possibly imagine. As a note for younger readers, this was before the Internet, incredibly, and we spent many, many hours watching ESPN in the dorm. And given that this was 1979, there weren't that many sports programs to show, and ESPN couldn't afford the rights fees for any of the higher-profile sports.
Then they found The World's Strongest Man competition, and a perfect marriage was born.
I'm sure I'm not remembering this accurately, but for several years it seemed like they showed The World's Strongest Man competitions about twelve hours a day (with the other twelve reserved for replays of "The Superstars.")
[And as a total digression, the funniest moment in the history of The Superstars was when Joe Frazier tried to swim one length of a pool. Frazier was an amazing athlete, but he swam like a boat anchor, and watching a world champion boxer try to dog paddle, and badly, was slapstick comedy at its best.]
Everyone in the World's Strongest Man competition had this bulging, outlandish physique that couldn't possibly be supported by the human skeletal system, and the events themselves involved activities like towing planes and carrying cars (I'm not joking). The refrigerator carry that Mike mentioned was a staple, and picking up a platform with people on it was also a real crowd pleaser. Combine the events with the steroid enhanced physiques and every contestant was a second away from tearing an ACL or blowing out their shoulder. If you're carrying a refrigator or towing a plane, you don't strain muscles--you obliterate them. So part of the ritual of watching the show was trying to figure out who was going to have some horrific injury.
That whole concept would have made a great children's toy. Load up Marty McAgony with a refrigerator and a railroad car and a bus and at some point, he'll explode. Don't be the last one to give him a tanker to carry!
And there was always somebody from Iceland, or Sweden, named Magnus V. Magnusson or something like that. Sturdy people, the Swedes.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Good Hygiene is Just Good SenseAfter Eli 3.7's bath, he'll yell "DADDY!" down the stairs, and I'll go up to tell him good night.
We have a well-established routine. Eli asks "Are you HEAVY or LIGHT tonight?" I get on my knees, and he takes a running start and tries to knock me over. I can't remember how this started, but just seeing the determined look on his face every night as he plows into me with his shoulder cracks me up.
Most nights I'm light, by the way, which means he knocks me over and we fall into a heap.
Tonight, because I've been sick (which I strongly suspect I caught from him, since he's had a stomach virus for several days now), I went upstairs and decided to forego the heavy/light confrontation. Gloria was reading Eli a book, and he was sitting up in his bed, holding a tissue.
"Can I have a hug, little man?" I asked.
"No, Daddy, you can't have a hug."
"I SAID I can't give you a hug." This was a shocker. I don't think I've ever heard him say that before.
"I can't? Why not?" I asked.
He stuck out his index finger. "Because I have a BOOGER on my finger and I don't want to get it on you."
Welcome To My VirusI've been sick all day (stomach). I think I've been reading Blog for the Sports Gamer
(http://sportsgamer.blogspot.com/) too often--between Todd's plague, Bill's blown out ankle, and Dan's blizzards, I probably caught something electronically.
Here's a quick update on the MVP player progression project. We're at 400+ simmed seasons now and have a test group of eight, including myself. We can mathematically model changes in probabilities and how they affect ratings on the position player side without having to sim. That's a big enhancement, because we're moving on to position players shortly and should be able to adjust probabilities with a very high degree of precision.
There are some frustrations on the pitcher side. Certain files aren't influencing the ratings that I expected them to, and I'm scrambling as I try to figure out why. The changes we've made are a significant improvement over the default values in the game, but I want them as accurate over time as the position player's ratings should be. It's one thing to match a general distribution (for instance, to have the 'right' number of pitchers in a certain ratings range), but it's another thing entirely to have them aging realistically as well. Without both, it's not really accurate. So we're still working on that.
Jeff Mercer, DQ Staff PhotographerMany, many thanks to DQ reader Jeff Mercer from Nova Scotia, who was driving past a McDonald's yesterday and saw this on their marquee:
"Toastedd Eli are here."
Just an e-mail to me would have been funny, but Jeff had a digital camera and snapped a photo as well.
And if you have a tough time reading the sign, just click on the photo and it will show you a larger view.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
The Games of MarchSince March is the end of a financial quarter for most companies, we get some good stuff coming out this month. Here's a brief list:
Darwinia: The demo alone is the best game I've played this year. Elegant and innovative and captivating, the full version has just been released. To describe it ruins the shock and delight of seeing it for the first time. For now, you can order it from the official website (http://www.darwinia.co.uk/), but I'm sure there will be a U.S. retail distributor soon. The game's just too good not to have one.
Star Wars Republic Commando: Recently released and there is plenty of buzz around this title. Intense, with spectacular graphics and solid gameplay, from what I've been told. The word of mouth has been so good on this title that it jumped onto my purchase list last week.
Freedom Force vs The Third Reich: Shipping today. I can't remember the last time Irrational Games made anything less than excellent. The original game was the surprise hit of 2002 and was a huge breath of fresh air with its superhero, over-the-top gameplay and witty style.
Brothers in Arms: PC version ships March 15. Based on E3 articles last year, this game was the surprise hit. Here's what DQ reader Russ Poe had to say about the Xbox version (already released):
In my mind, no other first person shooter has succeeded in nailing the intensity of a fire fight and putting you in the middle of it (not that I have been there, but this must feel similar). The AI is quite intelligent on both sides and will respond to a threat even if you are disoriented and cannot. A case in point - today another trooper and I were assigned to assualt a strongpoint. The first time I went through, I went right up the middle with guns blazing - the enemy AI dug in behind cover and basically fought me to a standstill. Both me and my AI buddy were caught in the middle of the street and pinned down and out of ammo. SO I thought, lets see what happens if I do this level again and change the approach. Let's flank the enemy's original position and try to line up a shot from the left. Both me and my AI buddy went to the left and tried to scurt the enemy by going around a house. The enemy AI set up an ambush for us - they saw us flank left - and since we did not pin them down properly, the AI shifted it’s line to the left when we were out of sight and ambushed us. We literally walked into a line of three germans who pinned us in the open and finished us. That is something you do not see in other FPS - this is a thinking AI. It uses the same tactics you do and it will punish you for not thinking. Had we fixed them to a position with suppression fire, things would likely have been much different.
This was one of the most anticipated games of the year for me, so March 15 can't get here soon enough.
Silent Hunter III: Also ships March 15. The most popular sub sim returns with a new version.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Shipping March 28. If you don't already know that you'll be playing a stealthy black-ops agent named Sam Fisher, then you're one of the few. Hopefully this engine will be more optimized for the PC this time, as previous versions have run like absolute pigs.
Cold Fear: A survival horror game shipping March 30, it crept onto the radar screen entirely due to this web page (http://www.cfgoa.org/us/bulletin/), which is one of most clever and seemingly authentic pieces of viral marketing I've ever seen.
Fishing Pants, Steve Irwin, and ToskWhen Eli 3.7 got up this morning, he decided that he wanted to wear some overalls that haven't fit him for about a year. They have a little bear or a zebra or a headless zombie or something on them and he's very attached. When Gloria told him that he couldn't wear them because they didn't fit, he had a total meltdown. Not throwing a fit, but weeping in despair that he couldn't wear his toddler clothes.
Plus these overalls are so big that they still fit in places, but they're way too short. The pants go up about four inches on his leg. Once he put them on, though, it was done. Gloria shrugged and started calling him Huck Finn.
Another bonus is that Eli can't really unbutton them, so when he needs to go to the bathroom he'll yell "HELP!" and Gloria has to do a Jackie Chan to get across the living room and in to the bathroom on time.
I stopped at Gymboree on the way home to look for a bigger pair of overalls, so that we could retire the trailer park fishing pants. Gymboree, in case you don't have kids, trades on "cute." Everything's supposed to be so gosh-darn cute that you don't even bother looking at the price tag. I would normally never go there, but it's just a short walk from where I work, and it's a nice day, so I gave in.
If you go into Gymboree, you're expected to talk from the second you walk in until you leave the store. Customers, clerks, kids--they're all yacking non-stop. It sounds like a hundred birds on a restaurant patio, fighting for table scraps.
So I did what I usually do, which is look for clothes for five minutes and stand in line for fifteen. At Gymboree, the shopping experience has only just begun when you get into line. It's in the employee handbook that you must be asked at least ten questions in the course of checking out. Multiply that by four people in line ahead of you and it's a long wait.
When I finally get up to the counter, the bonus experience begins. I picked out a little summer outfit that will make Eli look vaguely like Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter), who he thinks is hilarious.
The clerk picks up the shirt.
"Oh, this shirt is so cute," she says. She spends thirty seconds looking for the tag, then scans it. "We have some other shirts with birds on them instead of bugs."
"Thanks, I think I've got it all," I said.
She picks up the shorts.
"These are my favorite shorts," she says. Another thirty seconds on the tag. "We had these last summer, and when they went away for fall I was just crushed."
She picks up the hat.
"Isn't this hat wonderful?" At this point, I'm wondering if I could pretend to have suddenly gone deaf. Perhaps if I waved my arms wildly and pointed to my ears.
But that's all wrong. It's just a short term solution. What I need to do is learn just enough of an obscure foreign language to speak to the clerk, then use hand signals to complete the transaction. Tosk, perhaps, or possibly Gheg. Now that's planning for the future.
"That will be nine million dollars," she says. "Do you have any Gymbucks?" she asks. I've entered a children's store, waited in line for an interminable length of time, and now I find myself in an imaginary currency discussion. It's not a retail store--it's one step away from a barter economy. I'll have to bring a wheel of cheese next time to complete a transaction. I AM IN HELL.
I just got home, and after posting this, I'm going online to buy a video course.
The Scary Long-Toed PeopleHere they come. The stories from “people with long toes who pick up things.”
This gem is from LP Miller, Editor in Chief of Got Apex (www.gotapex.com), the site that finds unbelievable discounts on high-tech gear (and Dell in particular).
I'm double jointed in my fingers and toes, which I get from my dad. So I can have my toes point up at a 90 degree angle from my foot, no problems.
From my mom, I inherited very long toes. Almost fingers, really.
So all my life, I've picked up things with my feet. Pencils, abc magnets, cups on the floor, whatever. Drives my wife nuts, because lets face it, she has underdeveloped toes. Stunted, really.
When my oldest was born, the first thing I noticed was the long, slender toes. About the time she was four years old, she freaked out my wife when she dropped a crayon, reached down with a foot and picked it up on the first try.
"Good lord, there's two of you!"
Naturally, we were all excited when the youngest was born last year with long, slender toes. It's only a matter of time now.
It's reached a point now where my wife will struggle for hours to pick something up with her sad, stunted little feet. Finally, she'll manage it, and the kids and I have learned to praise her like she just learned to walk on her own or something. Even though we all know that she'll never really know the pleasure of never having to bend down to pick up the fork on the floor.
Monday, March 07, 2005
MaturityEli has a set of plastic letters with magnets in them that he can stick on the refrigerator to help him become more familiar with the alphabet. Yesterday he scattered them all over the kitchen floor. That was the setting for a conversation between myself and Gloria. For some reason, what started it all escapes me, but my internal recorder kicked in soon after.
The thoughts running through my head at the time are in italics. And I wasn't wearing socks--a crucial piece of information, believe it or not.
"It's funny," I say, as Gloria puts away some dishes, "It seems that in a general sense, many women feel that they're not empowered, but in almost all the marriages I'm aware of, the woman is definitely in control."
"Well, there's a good reason for that," Gloria says.
Hey. Those little magnet letters are on the floor.
"Really? And what might that be?" I ask.
"Because women are more mature," she says.
"Right," I say. "Just keep imagining that."
I wonder if I could pick up a letter with my toes.
"I'm not imagining," she says, laughing.
That would be cool.
"How do you even define that word 'mature'?" I ask.
If I can pick it up with my toes, I can stick it onto the fridge with my foot.
My bare foot starts nudging a "C."
"It means we are --what are you doing?"
"Nothing," I say. Dropped it. Damn.
"You're trying to pick up one of those letters with your FOOT, aren't you? Oh, that's disgusting!"
"People with long toes pick things up with them," I say. Almost got it. "Some Indians can write with their feet. You're just being provincial. " Yes! Got it!
"Were you asking a question about maturity?" she asks
"Look!" I say, as I put the "C" on the fridge. "I did it! Heh." Gloria shakes her head and starts walking out of the kitchen. "Don't go!" I yell. "I'll spell a word for you!"
El ChupacabraEli 3.7 has learned a new word.
I've always said that if there's one word you want your boy to learn, it's the word that refers to the mythic, terrifying beast whose name in Spanish literally means "goat sucker."
I blame Scooby-Doo.
No, I really blame Scooby-Doo, because that's where Eli heard the word.
"Daddy, is the chupercabla scary?"
"Not really, little man."
"But it looks scary."
"I know, but it isn't real."
"The chupercabla isn't real?"
"You mean like Tiger Woods?"
"Dude, Tiger Woods is real."
"TIGER WOODS is REAL?"
"Just as real as we are."
Eli 3.7 slaps his forehead. "I can't BELIEVE."
"Listen, little man, any time you see something on Scooby-Doo that seems scary, it's not real."
"No. There's always a zombie or a witch or a monster--"
"Or a chupercabla."
"Right. Or a chupacabra. Only it's really somebody in a costume who's just pretending to be a monster, and they're trying to scare people away from land that they want to buy to build a theme park. So there's nothing to be afraid of, because in the end they take the costume off the bad guy and he says 'I would have gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids. ' "
Eli 3.7 laughs. "Meddling kids. That's silly."
The sound of words can make Eli laugh, even if he doesn't know what they mean. Just hearing the name "Vijay Singh" while we're watching golf can make him fall off the couch laughing--he thinks that's the funniest name in the world.
He's obviously never heard of Seymour Butz, I.P. Freely, or Ollie Tabooger. Among others.
Friday, March 04, 2005
BruceI was playing with Eli 3.7 in the cul-de-sac this afternoon and we decided to go see Bruce.
Bruce is a Teacup Pekingese. These dogs have a body the size of a lemon with a foot of fur in every direction. He lives at a house that's about two blocks away, and every time we go for a walk (I walk, Eli rides), we stop and put our fingers through the fence into his backyard. He comes running and will lick our fingers and chew them a bit, too, because he gets so excited. We never go by without stopping to say hello.
Today was a watershed event. We decided to walk over and see Bruce. Both of us walking, that is, for the very first time. I mean, it's only about two hundred yards away, and Eli is version 3.7 now, so how long can it take?
That's an interesting theoretical question, actually. It's kind of like a discussion of "infinity" and what it can possibly mean. In a similar vein, if you've ever wondered how long "forever" lasts, I can now tell you.
And it's a very, very long time.
In a four hundred yard round trip, we stopped approximately--four hundred times. I am intimately familiar with every crack in the sidewalk, every spot of paint, every location of an ant mound or bit of dog poop. I know it all, because Eli 3.7 knows it all, and he was kind enough to pass along his knowledge. All of it.
On three separate occasions, he laid down. Face down. In a driveway. Three different driveways, as it were. He was "beat out," as he likes to say when he's tired. And when you're beat out, laying face down is soon to follow.
With fifty yards still to go on the return trip, he asked me to carry him. No problem, except I'm already carrying a giant load of mail, so I picked him up with one arm and caddied him back home.
And I realized after we'd gotten home that we both had a really good time.
Twiggy ReturnsHere's a note from DQ reader Jonathon Ramsey about the Twiggy the Water-Skiing Squirrel post from earlier this week:
It looks like the squirrel's hands are tied to the rope. This could be labelled as FORCED water skiing, which is not performed under his consent.
In addition, his feet are strapped to the skis, thus giving him no choice but to water ski when the rope is pulled upon. This is obviously a violation of his rodent rights and I am sure that he got a raw deal with his contract.
Maybe the reunion would actually go something like this:
"So, what do you do?"
"I live in a tree and eat nuts."
"So, what do you do?"
"I live in a tree and eat nuts."
"So, what do you do?"
"I am forced to water ski and I hate it. Call the POLICE!"
His amount of scoreboard went from very high to extremely low.
Friday Time Wasters
Here are some Friday afternoon time-wasters, unfortunately not published until Friday evening. Or Saturday in Australia. Or maybe Thursday in Australia. I tend to forget.
Pure Pwnage has a new episode out (www.purepwnage.com). There's a lengthier explanation in the September archives, but it's basically a mockumentary on video game culture, and it's very, very funny. You'll need the DivX codec to view (link available from the Pure Pwnage link).
DQ reader Doug Walsh sends along a link to a video of a FOUR YEAR OLD passing his Gran Turismo license test. Amazing, and a really cute little kid, too. Here's the link:
DQ reader Jody Parsells sends a link to a site threatening to eat a rabbit unless people pay a sizable ransom. It's very funny satire, and it appears that donations at this point are over seventeen thousand dollars. That, too, may be satire, but people like to laugh. Here's the link:
www.savetoby.com. Be sure to check out the Recipes section.
I've visited a funky little cartoon site called Exploding Dog for several years. The artist is named Sam and he draws these amazing pictures--very child-like and very funny. Now he has books in print and has turned into a phenomenon. This is the kind of site that will either blow you away or you'll be totally baffled as to why anyone would like this. I think I've mentioned this site before, but for the benefit of the new reader this month, here it is again:
Keeping You Abreast of the NewsWell, it's come to this.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Giving new meaning to the term "big news," a famous stripper is selling an oversized breast [implant] on eBay...
Measuring a full 69HH, Tawny Peaks once had just about the biggest breasts around. But when the orbs became the subject of a 1998 lawsuit, they grew even larger than life.
Peaks was a dancer at the Diamond Dolls nightclub in Clearwater, Florida. While at a bachelor party there, a patron claimed he was given a whiplash injury by Peaks, who had been swinging her breasts across his face at the time.
He said they were "like two cement blocks," according to Reuters.
The suit attracted national attention, and was finally settled by former New York mayor Ed Koch, ruling in a binding arbitration decision on "The People's Court" TV show.
After a female bailiff examined Peaks, Koch ruled that the breasts were, in fact, just breasts -- too soft to be capable of inflicting harm. No damages were awarded.
Where to begin? I feel like Willy Wonka in a field of chocolate.
First off, she once had "just about" the biggest breasts around? 69HH? Did each breast have its own handler?
If you're wondering how large 69HH breasts are, my crack research staff has determined that they're larger than a Camry but smaller than a mini-van.
I am absolutely sure that the guy who wrote this story has been waiting fifteen years for the chance to refer to breasts as "orbs." That's why he majored in journalism.
Then there's the whole question of the lawsuit. A patron claimed that he suffered whiplash while Ms. Peaks was swinging her breasts back and forth across his face.
I can't get a young Don Knotts out of my head at this point. I just can't.
In the lawsuit, a female bailiff apparently touched the deadly weapons in question and found them to be soft.
This is why you need professional representation. Mall Attorney Jugs N. Knockers would have pointed out that while water is "soft" in a glass, it feels like concrete if you're water-skiing at high speed and wipe out. So unless boobage velocity could be accurately determined for the accident in question, their safety at rest means absolutely nothing.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
We'd Like to Buy Your League, PleaseIn one of the most interesting sports stories I've seen in a long time, an investment group has offered the NHL 3.5 billion dollars--for the league. They would buy all franchises and, I assume, the arenas that are under control of the teams.
That's $117 million per franchise. Less than half the franchises in the league are worth that, some much less. So it's an interesting offer to a group of people who claimed that they were losing so much money they couldn't afford to play the season under the current financial system. Well, take your 117 million and get out, guys.
If the offer gets increased to 4 billion, and the owners refuse, it's going to be very hard for them to make the financial poverty case to the NHLPA when contract negotiations resume.
Here's a link to the story:
Some Disturbing NewsFrom Nate Carpenter, DQ's official Three Words of Wit Spokesman.
Given the scarcity of the last name, I believe you should check into the history of Leonard Dubious. I received a virus-infected e-mail yesterday from a "Constantine Q. Dubious." In Spanish. Make sure you're not being used as an unwitting dupe in some globally-intricate Dubious family plot to Infect The World.
It just occured to me that a "Dubious Family Plot" could be a cemetary sort of thing, too.
Sorry, it couldn't possibly be Leonard's family. Prospective staff member applications are investigated thoroughly by Director of Personnel Stephanie Assham-Dubious.
I'll see if I can find his resume.