Monday, August 28, 2006

Ramblings

You may have noticed I changed the template...again. I don't know how long this will last. It will probably change once Blogger has it so you can alter the html on the new Blogger beta. I'm intrigued by the tags you can add, and other things that won't fit in this template. Till Blogger makes html editing available there's this.

This blog has recently passed the 7,000 hit mark. I want to do something for all you regular readers out there, but don't know what. I'm taking any suggestions.

The next book I'm going to read: The Boy Detective Fails.

Why hasn't Rhymefest's debut album "Blue Collar" become a hit? There are at least 4 radio hits on that record. It's received solid reviews. It has Kanye West collaborations. Yet, I still haven't seen a video. The album isn't in the Billboard Top 100. There's been absolutely no radio play. I'm completely baffled by this. Has it simply not been promoted well? It's the second best hip-hop album of the year behind Ghostface Killah's "Fishscale."

Rhymefest - "Devil's Pie"

This past Saturday I woke up at 7:00 am to watch my Tottenham Hotspurs take on Everton. 7:00 am! On a Saturday! Spurs lost 2-0, and yet it still seemed worth it. It's scary how well I've taken to this whole soccer thing. I'm actually bummed that I have to wait two weeks till the next match. I also got my official jersey in the mail today. It's just sheer enough to show off my nipples. Begin your taunts...now.

When I was kid, I once went to a petting zoo or something in South Carolina. It might have been simply a farm that let you pet dirty animals. The point is that there was a goat who clearly didn't like me. Every time I turned my back on him he tried to ram me (mark it). Twice he got me. Once he actually sent me to the ground. I kept trying to avoid him but he'd always find me. I'd go to the other side of the lake thinking I'd lost him, and then "baaaa!" I'd turn around to see that stupid goat charging straight toward me. I've never wanted to kill an animal more in my life, well except for the dog that attacked Anne Marie.

Have you experienced The Sound and The Fury yet? I highly suggest you look, listen, and read.

I was easily persuaded to join some friends for a little fantasy football. I of course missed the draft because of work. It's one of the problems you have when everyone else lives on the east coast. The fantasy football gods shined down on me though. For missing the draft my team isn't that bad...as long as nobody gets hurt.

I saw Invincible, and enjoyed it. It's another solid sports movie. I thinks it's more of an accomplishment to screw up a sports movie. You hear me Oliver Stone?

Apparently, the Afghan Whigs are getting together for four songs that will be on their upcoming retrospective released by Rhino records. I normally would be very hesitant any time a band gets back together to record songs for a "best of." Yet, I'm pretty certain it will work out this time. Why shouldn' t it? It's still Dulli writing songs in the same vein he always has. Maybe they are just reworking some old songs. I guess this means the Sept. release date has been pushed back.

In the debate (?) between loft or house, I've always voted loft. After seeing some of the writer's houses though, I've maybe changed my mind. Naah. Loft.

I saw a promo on HBO for a special about the cursed history of the Cubs. I'm so excited! Soon everyone will as sick of hearing about the Cubs woes as they were about the Red Sox. Ben Affleck narrated HBO's Red Sox special. I've been trying to think who could be Chicago's Ben Affleck. I'll watch this special, but I will feel dirty afterwards.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

So Many Questions

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

12,179 and Counting.

That's the current number of zombies that I have sent back to the hell that they came from. Last night I completed Dead Rising, and thought I'd give those who care (PLW and um...PLW) the low down.
In Dead Rising you play a photo journalist who flies into a small town that has been quarantined by the military. Your job is to find out why the town has gone zombie in 72 hrs because that is when your helicopter ride arrives. You must also do this all while trapped inside a very large mall. It's a Mall of America type mall. Yes, it even has a roller coaster.

The clock in the game keeps ticking. Every five minutes of gameplay equals an hour in game time. This is a little bit of a problem. To figure out why there are zombies you have to be at certain places at certain times to activate the next chapter or as they are called in the game, cases. This puts a damper on actually exploring everything in the mall. You'd like to stop and see what weapons are in that store but you have to be back at the store room at 6:00 pm. I realize this adds some suspense to the game. Do you try pushing it and go rescue that lady in the jewelry store, or do you let her become zombie chow to make sure you are back in time to trigger the next case?

This brings up another couple of problems. For completest like me, I find it frustrating that you can't save everyone. You just can't. But really after ushering 25 people through a maze of zombies you begin to not really care. Why? Because the people you are saving end up really getting on your nerves. They are either crying the whole time, stopping at stupid times to try to kill zombies, or simply don't pay much attention to you. I really wish they had programmed them to be a little smarter. Those you can give a solid weapon to seem to do ok, and some you can carry , but at times it takes a lot of self control to not take a chainsaw to their melon.
Another problem with the survivors is how you are made aware of them. Before you head out into the mall, a security guard named Otis hands you a transceiver. He's the one that calls you and lets you know where they are. Can I just say. Otis is a moron. He calls at the most ridiculous times. Are you in the middle of a boss fight? Ring. ring. Are you ushering five people through a mass of zombies? ring. ring. You see, you can't fight while talking to Otis. Also, if you get chomped and hang up on him, he gets all snippy because you hung up on him. You will so want to put a fire axe in Otis' skull.
Unfortunately, you need to save people to earn points that raise your level so you can get different fighting moves, and carry more weapons, and have a longer life bar. You can also earn points though by taking photos of certain events and the carnage surrounding you. Did you just do doughnuts in your car over 200 zombies? Take a picture! Are zombies an inch from eating your brains? Take a picture! Did someone you are trying to save get chomped in the family jewels? Take a picture! The better the picture the more points you earn. One things about the save and the points you earn is that when you die you have the ability to save the level you are at and then start at the beginning. I actually recommend doing this a couple times, because it helps during the game. Cases that seemed very difficult before are more easily accomplished when you are leveled up a few notches.
Even more dangerous than the zombies, are the human psychopaths that have had a difficult time coming to terms with the zombie outbreak. There's the crazy clown, the competing photojournalist, the cult leader who has enlisted a bunch of bomb carrying members is green masks and yellow slickers, escaped convicts, crazy butcher, and many others. None of them are too difficult once you figure out their pattern.
One final problem is that one slot save. You are only given one slot, so if you screw up you end up losing a crap load of stuff you accomplished. Also, you have to go to either the security room or one of the bathrooms to save your game. I realize this makes dying in the game more dire, but it can be quite a pain.

Enough with the complaints though. Let's talk about the good stuff which is killing zombies. I thought it would get tiring killing zombie after zombie, but it really doesn't...ever. I mean I've killed over 10,000 of them and I still get a kick out of it. Each weapon does it's own special damage that is just doesn't get old. The sound is spectacular. From the thunk of sledgehammer striking a zombies on the head, to a katana slicing a zombie in half, to the sound of bashing zombies with an electric guitar. It all feels, looks, and sounds great.
I only wish there was a way to combine weapons together or adjust them. One of the weapons you can use is a frying pan. You can take that frying pan and heat it up on a stove, so you can sear a zombies head and earn bonus points. I wish there was more of that. I should be able to fill the squirt gun with a flammable liquid and create a flame thrower. I should have the option to wield two katanas, or pistols.

The story is a solid B-movie plot with nice cut scenes and above average voice acting. Everything is over the top as any game about being stuck in a mall with zombies should be. The visuals aren't as pretty as say G.R.A.W., but that's expected with a game that provides so many destructible zombies on the screen at once. You also have to consider that each zombie is then given multiple animations for every way to die. There should also be something said for the humor of the game. I give props to a game that provides the ability to hit zombies with pies, or put toy heads on them just for fun. Let's not forget the lawn mower either.
It's not a perfect game with the save system being its main fault. But because of it's originality and pure joy of playing it overcomes what shortcomings it has. For a system that leans heavily toward first person shooters this is a game that 360 owners should absolutely give a whirl. I just hope for the sequel that they fix the save system, and make it possible to play with a friend because if there's one thing better than killing thousands of zombies it's killing thousands of zombies with someone you love.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Welcome to the World Isabel!

As our family celebrates a birthday, we also get to celebrate a birth. Isabel Florence Kessler was born early this morning. I don't think she knows what she's gotten herself into. Of course, after 27 hours of labour maybe she does. Congratulations to Julie and Ben K. I can't wait to see my new niece! I want pictures!

What I Researched Today

1. Characterization of Cigar Tobaccos by Gas Chromatographic/Mass Spectrometric Analysis of Nonvolatile Organic Acids: Application to the Authentication of Cuban Cigars.

2. Santeria spells that make someone fall in love with you, and spells that curse your enemy.

Happy Birthday Jaime!

Happy birthday to my first sister-in-law. You and Ben I. have been married what? 11 years? The first time I met you, you were sitting on the couch of Dad's old apartment. The first thing I noticed was the laugh that has now become the best laugh of everyone in the family. You've also blessed with two of the greatest little girls on earth. So Happy Birthday Jaime! My birthday gift to you is a picture of a donkey in human clothes.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This Is How You Do It MOL Jr.

You ask MOL Jr. I answer.

Saturday:

8:58 am - Wake up.

8:59 am - Bathroom

9:00 - Sit on couch and turn on TV. The English Premiere League begins, and get to watch my first live much of now beloved Tottenham Hotspurs.

9:05 - Grab Pepsi and retro Tottenham Jersey and put it on. The jersey came weeks ago. Of course I was in the shower when it was delivered. Realizing if I didn't answer I would have to go to the post office, I answered the door in a towel. The poor old Asian mail lady. Nobody should ever see me in a just towel. It's like the Crypt Keeper answering the door. I really wanted the jersey, and hate the post office.

9:09 - Bolton scores against Spurs. The replay shows one of the Bolton players was clearing holding two defenders back. Nice to see refs suck in all sports. I take the jersey off.

9:13 - Bolton scores again on a spectacular goal from 35 yards out. I put the jersey back on, and sit on other side of couch.

10:33 - Bolton wins 2-0. Yep, Spurs are my team. I learn that Spurs has never beaten Bolton at Reebok Stadium. If I was a betting man...

10:35-1:30pm - Involves hygiene, trying to call friends and family, killing another
2,147 zombies in Dead Rising, checking e-mail, checking fantasy and reality baseball, checking movie times, call Dave Baldwin to see how he's doing.

2:23 - Arrive at comic book store to find the Phonogram comic book. It's all about music being magic. He also uses lyrics from an Afghan Whigs song as dialogue. The comic book is sold out. Buy two Stikfas to ease the pain, and satisfy the part of me that's still a kid.

3:13 - Have some Thai for lunch: garlic squid, lemon chicken, and Mee-krob. Wonder once again why I'm not pushing 200 lbs.

4:13 - Go to Barnes & Noble to see if they have Phonogram. What was I thinking? Pick up ESPN Fantasy Guide to get a clue about my fantasy football draft tomorrow. Read front to back.

5:13 - Go to music store to browse. See that Fox has released some new film noirs. Make a note to pick them up at a cheaper store.

6:45 - Go to movie theater to see some mutherfn' snakes on a mutherfn' plane.

6:50 - concession girl, who must be in charge of eating everything they would normally throw away at night, tries to sell me a chocolate bar for charity. I lie and say I'm allergic to chocolate. I realize I now cannot order anything with chocolate now. I feel guilty for lying to her, and the eating a lot thought. I order small coke and two hot dogs.

7:10 - There are maybe 20 people in the theater. This is what happens when your media buzz hit its peak a year ago.

7:17 - Preview for the TV show heroes shows. I'm interested and bummed because I've had that idea in my idea notes for 3 years.

9:15 - Credits roll. The movie is exactly what it should be, and enjoyable on that part.

9:21 - Movie jones isn't satisfied. That means...double feature! Little Miss Sunshine is playing at 10:30pm. Buy ticket.

9:30 - Have Chicken Dijon for dinner.

10:20 - Go into theater. Same concession girl. I now look like a dork, and still feel guilty. Order small coke and small popcorn. Really, why aren't I Orca fat?

10:26 - See the Heroes preview again. Now I'm just angry at myself.

12:12 - Credits roll. It had it's moments, but it felt like a generic road trip comedy wrapped in independent movie clothing. Even it's end message didn't appear to be what the characters needed. I know there are going to be people that will love this movie, I'm all luke warm about it.

12:45 - Get home, watch ESPN news, finish off box of Cheez-its (I wish I was kidding), Channel surf, check e-mail, check fantasy baseball, go to bed.

Sunday:

9:15 am - Wake up and get ready for church.

10:01 - Arrive at church.

11:05 - Leave church.

11:16 - Get home in time to watch Cubs game.

1:06 pm - Call Bob to see what's new. No answer.

1:28 - Call my brother Ben I.

1:45 - Cubs lose to the Cards 5-3.

1:50 - check e-mail, blah, blah, blah.

2:07 - Start planning my fantasy football draft.

2:45 - Check to see if my draft order has been set.

2:48 - Draft has been moved to next Sunday for the third time. Grrr.

2:55 - Kill more zombies.

3:21 - Order pizza.

4:00 - Watch Baseball Tonight. Actually watch last two innings of Little League World Series game. Did you see how big that first baseman was for the Saudi Arabia team? He's almost 7 feet tall and he's what thirteen? Oh the poor woman that gave birth to him.

5:00 - Watch first couple innings of the most over covered rivalry in sports: Red Sox vs. Yankees.

5:17 - Do laundry and clean apartment

4:13 - Come up with blog idea for later this week.

8:13 - Finish laundry (It'd been awhile)

8:19 - Take break from cleaning to download Lost Planet demo on Xbox 360. It is now one of my most anticipated games. It looks so cool. I said "Oh shit" at least three times during the demo.

9:26 - Finish cleaning.

10:13 - Finish second half of pizza.

11:36 - Check Sportscenter

11:53 - Start blog entry.

That is how you fill two days when you have only yourself.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

For Those Who Complain That They Don't Make Nonsensical Music Videos Anymore Like They Did In the 80's:


It's just too bad they are "winking" through the whole thing or it'd be perfect. Also, the song kinda blows. Sorry, Mandy.

Monday, August 07, 2006

What Might Have Been...

If my Mom would've had her way, I'd be married by now. In fact by the time I was 3, she already had a wife picked out for me. Her name was Molly and she was born to my family's close friends the Wards. Our families were close in way that we called Molly's father Uncle Paul. They were part of a circle of friends that formed together and started a church in Columbus. There was something great about being a kid among these friends that joined together to start something they believed in. We always hung out together, and they were all in fact family. Any celebrations, birthdays, cookouts, we'd all be together. We were in fact one large family. I still miss that community feeling, and wonder if it even exists these days. Among this group the Wards and the Itens were the closest. I can't remember a week that we didn't get together. I still remember us learning to ride bikes together, and putting on plays for the family.

So Molly and I grew up together. I was a little over a week older than her. Since our families did everything together we were forced to hang out together. I didn't really mind even if she was a girl. Clearly, we went to the same Sunday school. We also went to the same school. We learned to ride bikes at the same time. I tried to learn to swim in her pool. We put on plays for our parents. Yes, I even played with her...ehm...cough...Barbies. Little did I know that this was all going according to my Mom's plan. Maybe she saw this as a holy union of the Wards and Itens. Maybe she just believed this was some sort of providence and it was destined to happen.

Well the holy union never happened. It probably began around second grade. She was in a different class than me. She was becoming interested in boys. I thought girls still had cooties. Plus, I was busy playing soccer and fending off those girls that wanted be to be the Luke to their Leia. There was also when my parents divorced and we moved to South Carolina. As one last hurrah my Dad, little brother, and I lived with the Wards while the whole divorce thing was ironed out.

After my tormentuous time in South Carolina we moved back to Ohio, and maybe I was given a second chance. We ended up going to the same high school for awhile, and even went to the same college. She eventually ended up marrying the other guy we grew up with: Kevin King.

It wasn't till my Mom and I heard about them getting married that she actually vocalized to me her wish that Molly and I would eventually marry. I sort of felt I perhaps let her down a little. Clearly, I had my opportunities. There was a time I was attracted to her. She found this out when I admitted my attraction under the interrogation of her little sisters. So I wonder sometimes what would've happened. Would the group of families still be together? Would I be working some office job where I have to wear a suit? Would I have kids? Would I be happier than I am now? Would I listen to the music I listen to? Would I have loved Superman Returns? Who knows? I'm sure my Mom had some ideas in her head.

I would also like to point out that even after years there is still a connection between the families that worked to start that church. More of the families than I expected showed up at either the wake for my Mom and her funeral service.

One more thing, I'd like to point out in the Halloween picture that there was a time that make up was required to make me look that white.

1 Dead Zombie! 2 Dead Zombie! 324 Dead Zombies! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Downloaded the Dead Rising demo this weekend. In the fifteen minutes that they let you play I was eventually able to kill 324 zombies! 324! Below are some of the methods in which you can dispatch the zombies:

1. Heat up a frying pan and sear their heads
2. Blind zombie with pie and charge up with a golf club while they wander blindly...Fore!
3. Ditto mop bucket and baseball bat
4. Bowling ball
5. Sledgehammer to zombie skull
6. Zombie head goes pop with well placed scythe
7. Squirt them with a water gun. Doesn't kill them, but it's fun to annoy them
8. Katana makes zombie filets!
9. Shopping cart
10. Standard shotgun effect...boring...but highly effective
11. Hand gun taken from dead zombie security guards
12. Hunting knife
13. Baton
14. Soda cans.
15. Food court chairs
16. Mop
17. CD's like the squirtgun simply fun to annoy
18. Big diamonds
19. Flower pots
20. Garbage cans
21. Bench
22. Flying V guitar!

All these weapons and that was only the demo. All these dead zombies and that was just the demo.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

My Favorite Movie of the Summer So Far...The Descent.

Over the last four or five years, people have claimed that horror movies have made a come back. If someone had told me that back then I would've been pretty thrilled. For awhile horror movies were relegated to straight to video releases. Well, the horror movie is back, and I haven't been that pleased. The problem is that with the Saw series, Cabin Fever, and Hostel, they haven't been scary movies, but movie you should be scared to see. The movies have been so set on clubbing the audience with gruesome images that the movies become nothing more than a mind numbing effort with no real frights. There needs to be a balance between the gore and the scare. The Descent rides the line to near perfection.

The Descent is a British horror movie that follows six female friends who have a need to find thrills. They meet to go exploring a cave in the Appalachia Mountains. Our heroine of the group is a woman who lost her husband and daughter in a car accident a year ago. She's reluctant to come, but her friends think this is something that would be good for her. The get back on the horse kind of thinking. As with all horror movies, things go wrong once they enter the cave, and they become trapped with creatures who have adapted to live miles underground.

The great thing about this movie is that before the creatures even show up the tension has been ratcheted up with light and shadows, things possibly seen, and the confusion and claustrophobia of exploring a cave that the reveal of the creatures is almost a release. Yes there are many horror movie conventions, but the director employs them so well that they are effective. This is what I expect in a horror movie, and I hope more like this are to follow.

Are You Kidding Me? The Wave?

This afternoon while watching the Cubs go 8-3 during their homestand, I saw something I had never seen in all my years of watching the Cubs and going to Wrigley. I saw fans participating in one of the top 10 most annoying things about sports...the wave. Even the announcers couldn't recall the last time a wave broke out at Wrigley. What the hell is happening to the best park in baseball? Who is letting in these amateur hour morons into the park? I was actually embarrassed. That's not supposed to happen at Wrigley...ever. In fact "the wave" doesn't belong in baseball either. Here's more.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ramblings - The EP

Everytime they blow up or crush a car on our show, I immediately think, "I could've used that car. Instead of blowing it up, why couldn't they give it to me?" They bought a car and blew it up for a five second shot on our show. I do find it odd that one of my big complaints about Hollywood is that they blow perfectly good cars that could be put to better use.

Money to Burn. This phrase has always left me a little confused. I understand when someone says Bill Gates has "money to burn." It points to the ridiculousness of how much money he has. What I don't get is when people say "I'd love to buy that, but I don't have 400 dollars to burn." That makes no sense. If you would love to buy that, then how can that compare to burning money? Also, who came up with this "money to burn" phrase? Somewhere at sometime someone burned money and I want to know who it was.

In the "Please Don't Suck. Please Don't Suck" category I offer the Xbox 360 game "Dead Rising." You are a photographer stuck in a mall with hundreds of zombies coming after you and other civilians. Everything from squirtguns to bowling balls to shrub trimmers can be used against the zombies. Really, how can you go wrong with that? Also, there are supposed to be numerous zombies on the screen at once. So, it's not like taking out zombies one at a time as they chase you. That means zombie carnage on a mass scale. Still I have sneaky suspicion it might suck. I hope I'm wrong. I hope this screenshot is actual gameplay. I want to kill 523 zombies! At least!

I like that Regent keeps sending me e-mails to remind me that I'm an alumni. It keeps me humble.

Finally, to the jackass that I was trying to help yesterday at the gas station: You see when a car is running gas is pumped from the tank into the engine where sparks cause combustion that moves the parts. So, when you are trying to fill you gas tank with the car running, it's kind of like eating while sitting on the toilet. Ok maybe not, but still you can risk your life on your own time but don't get me and other intelligent people involved in your teasing Mr. Death. Also, don't tell me you've done this all the time. You're telling me that for the past 30 odd years of your life everytime you've pumped gas you've left the engine running? How are you still alive? If you are dumb enough to be doing that for all this time, what other moronic stuff have you been doing?