Thursday, December 15, 2005

Movie Trailer Round-Up

Here are the latest trailers for your amusement:

The DaVinci Code.

This will be a license to print money when Sony releases it in May. Speculative history plus the Vatican all based on an easy-to-read page-turner means it couldn't have been more tailor-made for mass consumption if God Himself made it so. I have yet to read it, though My Fair Lady makes sure to remind me of that every other day. I'm debating not reading it between now and then (mainly out of spite) and seeing how the movie plays by itself. Its the same tact I'm using with the Harry Potter series, but that's also because I thought the first book sucked and saw no reason to devote myself to a series that didn't have the words "The Dark Tower" somewhere in the title. Once I finish the movies, I'll go back and read the books but not before.

It helps to view them as pure cinema versus an adaptation, because in the case of the later I'd be just like my friends - they enjoy it, but then spend 20 minutes complaining about what was cut and what should have been there. I don't think DaVinci is anywhere near as bulky as Harry Potter, so it should be easier to squeeze everything into a two hour flick. In theory, at least.


The winning pick for "Who Cares?" for next summer. The original is a staple of 1970's disaster flicks, and rightly so, but what point does remaking it serve? Sure, it has an ultra cool wave, followed by the exact same ship-based destruction we've seen since the 1970's. Sure I'm a Kurt Russell devotee, but... why shell out for five minutes of entertainment and two hours of boring talk? Didn't I already see that with The Perfect Storm?

V For Vendetta.

This is the one for me come spring. Holy crap it looks like the Wachowski Bro(s). managed to knock this one out of the park. Early word is exceptional, but it has the same problem as From Hell did for me. Everything looks like it was filmed on a soundstage with sets out of the latest London-based play. I confess to ignorance on the architecture of the large cities having never been to England. The layout may well be as constricting as it looks in the trailer, but it still feels like the action and actors are all butting up against the walls and don't have room to move.

But I think I was a claustrophobe in a former life, so it could just be past memories resurfacing again. At some point I'll have to bring up the 15th Centrury Italian tailor memory - that one was a doozy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stop Dying You A-Holes!

Death comes for us all, as the saying goes, but if you live in this town, you better not die because... its illegal.

Right when you think you've heard everything, along comes a Brazillian mayor who wants to outlaw death.
Mayor Roberto Pereira da Silva's proposal to the Town Council asks residents to "take good care of your health in order not to die" and warns that "infractors will be held responsible for their acts."

The bill, which sets no penalty for passing away, is meant to protest a federal law that has barred a new or expanded cemetery in Biritiba Mirim, a town of 28,000 people 45 miles east of Sao Paulo.

"Of course the bill is laughable, unconstitutional, and will never be approved," said Gilson Soares de Campos, an aide to the mayor. "But can you think of a better marketing strategy?"
I can. How about not scaring the hell out of the tourists who fear fines should their number come up?

Thursday, December 8, 2005

The Trap Is Set... and Sprung

Some time ago My Fair Lady and I discovered a possum running around our backyard. He shimmied up the fence and took off, so we didn't pay much more thought to it. A few weeks after that, I heard a noise in the ceiling and went up into the attic only to find Mr. Possum crawling along the floor boards and ducking into a crack in the wall that separates our attic from our neighbors (we live in adjoining town homes). Thus began extensive Googling to find out about animal traps, the conclusion of which was that the city of Dallas animal control sucks.

It takes forever to get through on their phone line, only you wind up getting another answering machine that directs you to call another number. Regardless of how close we live to another near-by city (about 80-ft), the city of Dallas had to come and pick up the animal should we catch it and corner it. Would they come out and trap the animal themselves?

Golly gee no, because if it got in then it has a way to get out. Help me, I do love government logic.

Foiled by bureaucracy, I began tracking down how much it would cost to trap the thing ourselves. It seemed to me that all I needed was a trap and some bait. I'd seen roadrunner cartoons, so if a coyote could pull it off just how hard could it be? Home Depot and Lowes both confirmed that they had traps in stock for around $30, which My Fair Lady was agog at.

"For that much, we could hire a hunting party with dogs to track the thing," she said.

"Honey, we already know where it is. Plus, our backyard is roughly the size of a picnic table and that many dogs won't have anywhere to go," I replied. "We only have the one tree, and that many dogs trying to mark the nearest territory all at the same time is liable to turn violent."

We put it out of mind when we didn't hear Mr. Possum for a while, but My Fair Lady's eagle eyes spotted it Sunday night in the backyard. I leapt to the rescue and charged outside only to see Mr. Possum flee my wrath in the direction of our house. Imagine my surprise when I followed him only to find a fairly large ground-level hole into the grandeur of Casa de Skim.

Fortunately, My Fair Lady knew someone at her law school that possessed one of these fabled "Wild Animal Traps" and when she brought it home I was surprised to find it looked like a wish mesh rectangle. There is a pressure plate towards the back of it, so my innate hunter skills kicked in and told me to set the food behind the plate, and then rig it so when the animal stepped on the plate the door would slam shut. Said skills also instructed me to leave a small trail of food from the hole in our house to the trap so Mr. Possum would easily find his way into harm's way.

The voices also told me to burn down the local Wal-Mart, but I figured they were just kidding.

The following morning felt like Christmas. Would we have a furry little present to unwrap, or not? The anticipation was killing me so I raced outside and found Mr. Possum a caged guest. When I arrive at the office, I again tracked down Animal Control and spoke with a rep there who assured me that they would be able to come pick the animal up in one to three days. Somehow that wound up translating to an hour and a half later when they knocked on our front door and My Fair Lady was caught unprepared. She called me later and told me the following:

"That possum was so cute. He just looks at you with these big dark eyes, and he's so sweet."

"Hon, that thing ate its way inside our house," I replied. "It might have grown big enough to try and eat us. Thankfully, we won't have to worry about it from now on."

She thought about that for a second before saying: "Do you think they'll just release it and it might find its way back?"

"Its not like we caged a golden retriever. It's a damn possum. The city is filled with them. If they release it south of here, then it might make its way over to my parents' house and bug them for a while. They already have enough of a possum problem, so what's one more?"

"That's not funny," she said.

"No it's not," I said. "What's funny is thinking about my dad running out in the backyard with his air rifle blasting everything that moves while the dog and cat just look at him like he's out of his mind. That's a mental image that's cracking me up."

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Tipping the Scales

Here is a story that goes into detail on why the world's tallest building may in fact be nothing more than a big middle finger to Mother Nature.

Apparently, she's taken it personally.

Some genius thought that a 1,667ft. building weighing in at 700,000 tons would be perfectly placed right on top of a fault line. This puts in jeopardy the construction of Sky City 1000 in Japan, a proposed vertical city which I'm sure looks a lot like Coruscant in the architects' minds. I'm also sure that the notoriously shifty tectonic plates in the region won't take too kindly to bearing the stress of a city built on top of another city.

Man's achievements are only limited by his intelligence. But sometimes Mother Nature will step in and smack his butt hard just to remind him that he's a guest in Her house. We can, and should, always reach for the stars, but if you want to build a double-decker city on top of a fault line, that's just begging for Godzilla to wake up and tear ass through Asia. I can't wait to see how the CNN commentary explains that one.

The Ice Man Cometh

So an ice storm decided to blast Texas today. Before 2 p.m., I'd already been laughed at by a native Canadian, assured a paranoid Los Angeles transplant that sticking to the main streets would be his safest bet, and been assured that were I to call in sick tomorrow I would be dragged to work by my HR director since I live right down the street from the office.

Insert punchline here.

Texans tend to be an assertive folk on the roadways. We speed through 30 mph school zones with nary a care in the world, and regard speed limits more as suggestions. Law enforcement around rush hour tend to agree with the suggestion part as whenever they are on the freeways between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. week nights, its usually to help out with wrecks.

Now take an entire state of aggressive (and frequently paranoid) drivers and throw bad weather into the mix. Make it ice just for an added kick. It doesn't matter how long the ice is going to be on the ground. It's the End of the World™ just the same. None of us Dallas-natives know how to drive on ice because it so rarely hits us that the rest of the year we don't think about it. You have 365 days a year, and if two of them involve ice do you really worry about it the other 363?

Not hardly.

So a quarter inch of ice has found its way to our city streets and apartment complex roads, and will be burned off by noon tomorrow at the latest. Will that prevent mass chaos tomorrow morning during rush hour? Hell no. Personally, I'm banking on just that. Since El Jefe told us today that we don't have to be at the office until 9 a.m. tomorrow, I'm getting some popcorn in the morning for breakfast and watching the traffic gals work themselves into fits as they try to keep up with all hell breaking loose on the road ways.

I consider this the Olympics of traffic reporting. The only question is, who's going to bring home the gold?

Friday, December 2, 2005

Sloshing Water While Thinking = Not Smart

People who read funny things on the web tend to spit-take more often than other people. I don't know what the official spit-take to non-spit-take ratio is, but the odds of someone taking a drink only to read something funny and spew said drink on their keyboard increase for Fark or readers.

I just spit a slight amount of water on my keyboard by accident as I was sloshing it around in my mouth, ostensibly to wash it out.

As if a little bit of water will wash away the taste left over from two chili-cheese hotdogs and a liter of Dr. Pepper. As it stands now, if I open my mouth again I'm just as likely to burn down my cube should I accidentally exhale.

Anyone have a breath mint or five?

Me Vs. The Germans Round 2

My Fair Lady is in the middle of her law school finals for the fall, and as such has spent an unhealthy amount of time cocooned in the library. Apparently, its not conducive to studying with me running around the house making explosion noices and talking to myself depending on whether I'm gaming or writing.

I'll leave you to guess which sounds go with which activity.

So it was on Sunday morning when she went out to her VW Passat to head to the library. My cell phone rings about 20 second after she walks out the front door.

Me: "Hello?"

MFL: "My car won't start."

Me: "What do you mean it won't start? Did it die somewhere?"

MFL: "Nope. It won't start and I'm out in the driveway. Help?"

So we both look at her car, and our official diagnosis of the problem was summed up thusly: "Huh. Want to take my car?"

Later that afternoon, I played with her car and determined the battery was dead. This was the same battery that's been in her car for the last six years, so the fact that it died was not surprising in and of itself. So when she came home about 9:30 p.m. that night, we decided that one day this week we would get up early and take her car in. Come Wednesday night, we still hadn't managed to take it in. But we figured it couldn't be that difficult to swap out the battery.

Apparently, German engineers are hella good at liberally bolting down everything they can find. Bolts must grow on trees over there because I've never seen so many on anything. I now think that there must be a "bolt tax" somewhere in the cost of German-made cars, because it can't be cheap to quickly grow them if they use one bolt tree per vehicle. I'll get to why I think this in a bit.

My Fair Lady throws her car into neutral and I push it out of the garage and line it up next to my Cherokee. I get the jumper cables out and she stops me cold. "Now are you sure you know what you're doing?" I calmly replied that while I may not be able to build a car blindfolded, I have jumped more than my fair share and do know what I'm doing. Then we got our first surprise.

Car batteries are different from regular batteries only in size. There is literally no other difference. So if the black cable goes on the black battery head and the red cable goes on the red battery head, then the connection is cleanly made. We then found that her Passat's battery was not so clearly labeled. The wires plugging into her battery, however, did have the red and black differenciation, but it took some convincing that this was the way to go. Once the cables were set, I turned my car on and waited a minute, then hers turned right on. So we decided to go buy a battery and swap hers out.

We get to Auto Zone and go through the process of buying a battery. Apparently, her father scared the crap out of her and her siblings regarding jumping cars and car batteries in general. In his day, if you jumped it wrong then the battery could explode all over you. The result of which is illustrated below:

Image hosted by

When we got home with the new battery, we pop the VW's hood and look at the battery. It was wedged up near the front of the car almost to the point where the ability to hover in the air would have been helpful. As it was, we simply had to climb all over it to get the right angle because of, wait for it, how the thing was bolted in.

Every car battery has cables coming off of the positive and negative heads, so all you have to do is loosen these, take off whatever else the battery connects to, then pull it out and drop in the new one. But there are two things to consider when working on a foreign car:

1) The bolts and equipment were installed using a different measurement system so your tools won't exactly line up with what's installed. This will lead to an unhealthy amount of improvisation on your part as you struggle to use three tools to unscrew a bolt that one tool installed in the first place.

2) The parts you will unscrew will be small and can be easily lost if misplaced. Pre-determine where you will set the removed parts/bolts, and do not deviate from this.

After about half an hour of using almost every tool we own (which is quite a lot, for the record), My Fair Lady and I managed to unscrew every bolt and plate that held that battery in place. I then yanked it out, took the new one and dropped it in, then started reconnecting everything. When it was all set and ready to go, I casually hid around the corner while My Fair Lady started the car to see if it worked.

The good news is that everything went fine and her car runs better than before. The better news is that once again I have met the German enemy and defeated him thusly. The even better news is that we didn't have to pay some guy $100 in labor costs when I could do the same thing for a celebratory Frosty from Wendy's.

What can I say, I work cheap.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Not-So-Brief History of Superman V

With the upcoming release of Superman Returns, people unfamiliar with the inner workings of Hollywood might wonder when this gem of an idea started. Those of us familiar or passingly familiar with the inner workings know that the film has been boiling for a looooooong time now.

If you want details of just how much of a cluster the project was until just a year or two ago, check out this forum post at OO. I knew a lot of the details of the project, but sweet Jesus even I was stunned at the wanton hubris of all involved. The story ends just before work on the final film began (circa 2003-4) so it gives the impression of being a cliffhanger. Rest assured that all of our fears will either come to fruition or be laid to rest next summer. From the teaser and early word from the set, I'm betting that Bryan Singer knocked it out of the park.

My favorite part was Justin Timberlake's response when he was offered the title role. I'll leave it for you to discover.

Be warned that if you plan to read it all, make sure to have at least an hour or so because it is about as lengthy and detailed a story as you'll find. It also should prove once and for all that no matter how high you climb in the world, there is always a group of people higher than you that is collectively dumberer than everyone else you've ever met.


Friday, November 25, 2005

Now That's a Lot of LEGOs

CNN has posted this story about a man who stole $200,000 worth of LEGOs. I'm wondering what the tip-off was that he was the perpetrator, but the life-size LEGO X-Wing on his front lawn might have been a clue. I'm all in favor of playing with the over-priced bricks, but you know you might have too many when the cops take them all away using a dumptruck.

Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving

Happy holidays to everyone in the USA. You Canadian weirdos already had your Thanksgiving, so no turkey for you.

A special shout-out to employers everywhere who insisted their people be at work today even while they themselves are out of town on holiday. Not that we're bitter or anything. Of course, it gives me time to work through inventory which is something I've put off for two months because I needed a few hours when I wouldn't be interrupted to do it.

So at least there's that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ripped From the Headlines...

Two hilarious stories for the viewing public tonight. The first is this story about the dangers of aggressively flashing women and refusing to stop when The Man points a taser at you.

The second is a story I can no longer find the link to on It involved a drunken French woman (redundant, I know) trying to open a plane door to light a smoke. The catch is that the plane was in mid-flight. They always told us second-hand smoke would kill us...

Culinary Delights at the Supermarket

Damn you Blue Bell. Damn you for teasing me with Country Vanilla oh so many moons ago. My Fair Lady grew up eating home made vanilla ice cream, which is the furthest thing Blue Bell's vanilla flavors taste like. They have Homemade Vanilla and French Vanilla, yet a few months back we stumbled onto a new flavor called Country Vanilla. Deciding to take a risk, we picked it up and tasted it when we arrived at Casa De Skim.

The lights that went off in My Fair Lady's eyes as she tasted it were so bright it was as if the sun went supernova in the middle of her brain. It tasted... like honest to goodness homemade vanilla ice cream. Of course, we immediately ate throught it all and went back for more.

As is typical, it was no where to be found. Normally I prefer the richer French Vanilla flavor, but Country Vanilla simply ruled. Wherefore art thou, oh Country Vanilla? Why hast thou forsaken me and vicariously My Fair Lady?

On the flip side, we discovered that Black Forrest roast beef and honey ham is the best meat money can buy. Growing up, My Fair Lady's family would cut French Bread up and make sandwiches out of it using fresh deli meats and cheeses. A huge benefit was brought into our marriage when she introduced this concept to me, and we've been eating them ever since. Oh sure, we alternate different meals every few days just to add some variety to the menu. But we continually go back to roast beef sandwiches with fresh deli cheese, and it's tasty as can be. We always just went with the roast beef they had out, because how many times do you actually focus on the beef beyond whether it's fresh or two days old?

As it turns out, there is a world of difference between meat products. One time when I was shopping there, the clerk asked me if I wanted to try the primo roast beef. Figuring that sampling fresh meat is never a bad thing, I tried out it. I now refuse to touch roast beef that's not Black Forest Primo. Ditto their ham. Just thought I would share tonight.

So a New Console Hit Today...

And I honestly could not care less. Oh sure, the future is now and all that with the Microsoft Xbox 360. But despite claims that the games are super-stupendous-unbelievable gorgeous, I have yet to see an instance of that with the exception of Project Gotham Racing 3. This series has always pushed the envelope, and seems to be damn near photo-realistic with the screens I've seen. But since racing games do exactly zero for me, I don't care how pretty it is because I'll never play it. The release of Call of Duty 2 and Quake 4 for the Xbox 360 don't mean anything to me because I can play both on my PC, and they look the same from the screen-by-screen comparisons I've seen. Oh, and I have actually played Quake 4 on a 360 while I met with Activision in San Francisco back in September and it looked identical to the PC version.

Image hosted by

This does not represent the huge graphical leap forward people claim it does. What it means is that the first generation of games on the new console can match existing top-of-the-line PC hardware, and that's good news for gamers. When the "real" games start hitting for the console, my imaginary target for that is next summer, then we'll start to see the envelope pushed on everything. There is not a second before that point in which I will consider buying the console, not one. Any and all new consoles are great for the early adapters who love to blow their money on high-tech gadgets and gizmos, and they are more than welcome to it.

As for me, I'll hold off until it's been at least 18 months since launch. This is what I do with consoles since I started paying for them myself, and at no point do I intend to change this in my life. It worked wonders for the PS2, and I picked up my Xbox for the sole reason of finally playing Halo, a game I'd followed for years prior to its console-only release. But I won't touch the 360 (or next year's PS3) until after it's been out for so long for one reason: The games.

No console can sell me without at least five games I have to play or I'll die. There were at least that many when I finally picked up my Xbox along with Halo, and I did the same with my PS2. Short of that, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo can all blow smoke as far up my backside as they want and I won't budge. If there are five drop-dead gorgeous absolute must-play titles by this time next year for the 360, then I might waver on my timeline. I do not doubt the console is powerful, quite the contrary. I expect phenomenal things from it in the future, but I don't think the developers have had enough time to really get up to speed on what the box can do. Just look at God of War and tell me you honestly thought the PS2 could pull that off, let alone do so this late in its life.

Now imagine the wonders we'll see two years from now on the 360 and three years from now on the PS3 (if it launches this time in 2006). This generation might push me and others further away from PC gaming if only because I've found the older I get, the less time I have for jacking with upgrades for my computer. I just don't care anymore, and maybe that's because of the day job. But I've built and rebuilt enough computers in my time to where I can do it blindfolded, and I hate doing it at home. My machine has a custom high-end video card that's now a year+ old, which means it's not close to what it used to be. To tell you how out of the loop I am on hardware I honestly don't know what the top card is anymore.

Even worse is I don't care. For $500, I can buy a top-of-the-line graphics card and a top-of-the-line sound card, or a new console and two games.

We'll eventually see where I wind up, and I know I will at least pick up a PS3 someday. Sony's exclusive titles have historically proven too tempting, and that's one thing Microsoft never sold me on this generation. Sure, games looked better on the box, but there were so many more options for the PS2 that it bordered on ridiculous. My number two system remains to be seen, but I will say this much. The 360 has a lot of promise and potential, but if it's not 100% backwards compatible in two years, then I'll keep my current box thank you. Halo 2 is the only game I own currently on Microsoft's BC list, and that game outright sucks. I might one day write up a column on why Halo 2 is one of the worst games I've ever played, but that'll have to wait until I'm in a bad enough mood. In the meantime, I'll watch people fight over 360's and laugh because the great games aren't even out yet and we all know it.

I'm just willing to wait for them to arrive first.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Superman Returns Teaser Trailer + Art

Image hosted by

I'll admit it - I am not the comic book freak I once was. Pretty much my only two comic loves now are Batman and a distant second is Superman. Batman Begins pretty much rules the earth for me, and maybe someday I'll write up my thoughts on why. But for right now, we have the second coming of Superman, and it looks glorious. Check out this teaser:

Superman Returns teaser trailer.

Director Brian Singer has openly admitted to a fetishistic lust for Richard Donner's 1978 original, and at no point in the trailer is that not blatantly obvious. From the Marlon Brando voice-over to John Williams' legendary majestic score, this film looks set to galvanize superhero fans. With the one-two punch of Batman Begins and Superman Returns, Marvel better get on the ball because their butt is about to be kicked hard.

Kong Poster

Image hosted by

Yup, another one tonight. I'm burning through my script and I've decided that whenever I hit a wall, I'll blog for a bit to keep the writing going.

Hey, we both benefit.

As for the poster, it's simple and beautiful. I'm curious about the film more and more, but I can't get over the fact that it's three frickin' hours about a damn big gorilla. The original 1933 version was only 100 minutes and is justifiably hailed as one of the all-time greatest films ever made. And all of us can feel free to ignore the 1970's version despite featuring The Dude versus Charles Grodin.

I know Peter Jackson did wonders with the Lord of the Rings saga, I really get that much. But three hours devoted to an ape?

V For Vendetta Poster

Image hosted by

It kills me to have to shrink the posters I put up here, but I have yet to figure out how to use Image Shack (which lets you create clickable thumbnails) without inadvertantly linking to about a dozen porno sites.

On the flip side, that is one wicked cool poster for a story that pro-government politicians will likely be up in arms over. Not because it shows a future where the British government is totalitarian, but because the lead character is essentially a terrorist who works to bring said government to its knees. Frankly, I can't wait to see it, even if it looks like From Hell crossed with The Matrix.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

All Hail Vin Diesel

Something I never thought I'd write, personally. Just thought about sharing the Vin Diesel Random Fact Generator with the three people that read this blog. A sample fact goes thusly:
Vin Diesel is credited with the phrase "revenge is a dish best served cold" when he physically manifested the idea of revenge into a dinner plate, froze it, and then beat his enemy to death with it.
Just keep hitting refresh and you're guaranteed at least ten more kinds of genius contributions like that.

Script Writing is Teh Hard

It's been so many years since I wrote a feature length screenplay that I'd honestly forgotten how. So it was that Mother Dearest handed me a slip of paper she'd clipped from the Dallas Morning News that told of a Hollywood screenwriter holding an extended education class at Richland College on the art of screen writing. So I go and sign up for it figuring it can't hurt. At the very least, it would kick my mind back into the right place for scripting.

Here's a quickie synopsis of how I am. I live, sleep, eat, breathe and love movies above all other things in this world, My Fair Lady excluded. Quentin Tarantino may love just about every grindhouse-kung-fu--exploitation flick ever made, with a particular emphasis on Italian crime cinema, but for me it's everything across the board. Name the flick and I've either seen it or heard about it, unless you truly reach into the realm of the obscure. Cinema is my second language, and has been since I was shot in the head with a movie as a small child. Like so many would-be film makers of my generation, I was bit hard by the movie making bug courtesy of George Lucas and Star Wars, and since then I go out of my way to watch anything and everything I can get my hands on.

In short, I know my stuff when it comes to film and television. But I've been out of the screen writing process for so long that the precise format had been lost to the sands of time, and I felt it was time to reclaim it.

Hence, I joined the class and damn if I haven't loved it. Tomorrow night is the final class and I'm currently on page 45 of my screenplay. It should be about double that, but circumstances at both work and home have taken their toll on my availability to crank out 15 pages per week as mandated by the professor.

The plus side is he still holds an informal discussion for would-be writers on Friday nights, so it's not like I'm without future options. He also loves my writing style, and recognizes that I know my stuff on what should be cut and what should be added to scripts. It's fun talking cinema with him, especially since he believes all films since 1970 are crap. While I won't argue that there are more than a few duds out there, I was half-tempted to throw Marnie back in his face.

Bonus points if you've seen that one.

But good Lord I'd forgotten how much I truly loved writing. Don't let the infrequent updates fool you - this blog has frequently kept me sane. Very shortly in fact, I'll be devoting a lot more time to it and to my personal writings, but saying more now would not be advisable. I'm also planning on talking more about my DVD collection and movies in general to just keep the creative juices flowing as much as possible. Who knows what might happen?

I may even finish a full screenplay this year as a sort of early Christmas present to myself.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sony's Early Christmas Present to the Masses

By now, just about everyone has heard about the nifty little rootkit that the latest Sony CDs auto-install when you pop them into your PC. It manages to fit right into that nebulous legal area where law enforcement thinks its against the law, but has a tough damn time proving it.

Welcome to the wide world of rapidly changing technology, and law enforcement's efforts to stay only two years behind. The short version of what Sony CDs install is software that is both invicible to users and which cannot be removed. Oh, and anti-virus software won't pick it up. Should you manage to find it, forcibly removing it will more often than not result in a full system clustersnafu. My favorite part about this?

Sony not only did it as a means of copy protection (thus hurting people who had legally purchased the music CDs), but they didn't cop to the fact that they did it until after they were caught.

And now hackers have already released the first virus based on Sony's toolkit. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Sony decided to release a removal kit.

According to this story, the removal tool only opens a few more security holes than the inital rootkit did. Not to mention the fact that once the initial rootkit is uninstalled, the uninstaller itself remains on your machine.

There are so many things wrong with how Sony is handling this it borders on parody. Unfortunately, it seems that the larger a company grows, the dumber it gets. Call it the inverse law of success. As it stand now, I don't think Sony is going to quite get the message until one of two things happen:

1) Microsoft patches Windows to the point where nothing like this can be installed on any machine running Windows, period

2) Sony gets slapped with a class-action lawsuit the likes of which its never even heard of.

Considering the way Sony has handled this, I'm actually betting the only question is which of those two examples happens first.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Best Use of Board Gaming Ever

Thanks to CdS reader Nathan for pointing out this site which shows exactly what Star Wars geeks with a goal can accomplish. If you're even remotely into tabletop games, this is an absolute must-view. Here's why:

Image hosted by

IQ Limit on Running Your Own Business?

The longer I work for my current boss, the more convinced I become that I'm too smart to run my own business. Every decision he makes seems intentionally calculated to be the dumbest move possible. Take tonight for example - he has a big presentation to make in Chicago at the end of the week, so he has a bunch of us gather together print materials to send out overnight. Not that bad, you might say. Add this gem to it - our ftp site went down on Friday, and he decides to shoot down all of my suggestions at moving on to someone else because he wants things exactly the same and doesn't want to have to pay for a solution.

Here's the fun part - the ftp site may as well have been a server farm in some guy's living room. That's what I pegged it as six months ago when they stopped communicating with us all together. I immediately told the boss this and that we needed a backup plan, or to move on to anywhere else quickly. Since we were paying $150 a month in hosting fees for a ton of storage and bandwidth usage, his answer was that we'd "ride it out."

I guess that horse went belly-up Friday. Trigger is no more, sayeth Teh Lord. Amen.

On the flip side, I located a bunch of other streaming media vendors today while under extreme pressure from El Jefe to do 100 other things all at the same time. I frequently wonder if he's on the same planet as the rest of us, because while he may see himself as a visionary, his staff views him as a ferret on speed with about half the IQ.

Oh what fun it is to ride in this one horse open sleigh. Especially when the horse is dead weight dragging the sleigh down the hill at terrifying speeds and the only thing you can do is hang on and shriek like a little girl.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Further Stem Cell Development has this story that is chock full of future potential. Imagine a world where stem cells could be bio-engineered and programmed to repair damaged organs. People talk about the need to clone things like internal organs, but let me use a dear friend of mine as an example of why this is not the best way to go.

My dear friend was born with a defective heart and through her life has experienced numerous surgeries to keep a failing organ afloat. Were doctors able to clone it, they would essentially be replacing one failed organ for another. If, on the other hand, we had about 50 years of tech gains from the story linked above, then something else entirely might be possible.

Stem cells are essentially blank documents that your body programs as needed. As listed in the story above, scientists have injected a person's own stem cells into their heart to help repair the muscle after an attack. What if scientists were able to bio-engineer stem cells so that they could not only repair damage, but also entirely rebuild an organ? Then scientists could take a person's stem cells, do some funky sci-fi magic to it, grow a brand new, healthy organ that wouldn't be rejected by a person's immune system, then replace the failed organ with the new one.

Presto, we're one stem closer to immortality. At the very least, this would save literally millions of lives from the simple fact that humans are, as a species, susceptible to any number of illnesses and defects that shorten our life spans. I hope that what we're seeing now are the first steps towards gains in health care technology.

My Fair Lady just pointed out that grocery stores are starting to use lasers to burn onto fruit information like which country it was picked in, what time it was picked in, blood type, favorite color, and most romantic date. Isn't technology grand?

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Kong is King... For Three Hours

Here is the official trailer for Peter Jackson's latest love letter to cinema, King Kong. While impressive as hell, I can't shake the fact that it's a three hour movie about a giant ape run amok. I'm a long-time lover of the original black&white film, but that sure as hell wasn't three hours because there isn't three hours of story there.

Then again, I happily spent 9 hours+ following two dwarves who have to drop a gold ring into some lava to blow up a flaming eyeball, so what do I know?

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Drawing the Line at the Decorative Cabbage

My Fair Lady and I went to the Dallas Farmer's Market this morning to look around. Just because, that's why. Anyway, we're looking at the wide variety of pansies, ferns, ivy, and mums and she points out something specific. She identifies one plant as decorative cabbage. It was at this point when it hit me that sometimes plants have truly silly names. I don't look at something that reminds me of a big yellow weed and call it a mum. Nor do I look at a small green plant and immediately think of it as "decorative cabbage."

I don't think that's quite what the British used it for during the London bombings of WWII. Somehow, the image of Winston Churchill telling Londoners to never stop fighting, and never stop using cabbage to spruce up their bombed-out decor doesn't quite jive. But it's a novel idea. That being said, I couldn't quite bring myself to buy any because I have no idea how I would explain it to friends and family who would visit in the future. The conversation might go something like this:

Mom: Hello all. My, what colorful plants you have in your front yard. What is that?

Me: That's the decorative cabbage, mom. If you'll pardon the expression, we thought it added some flavor to the front of the house.

Mom: Isn't that what Londoners ate while the Nazis bombed them?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Aren't You a Little Skanky For a Stormtrooper?

Image hosted by

No, I'm not posting how I came across this site but if you're part of the Star Wars uber-nerd patrol, then it's a must see.

If only to shake your head in disbelief.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Oh Nos Teh Dramah!11!!

God help me, but I just want it over. The ridiculous level of drama that has engulfed my gaming site, Gaming Trend has got to stop. You might notice how there is basically a "JUST SOLD!" sign at that link, and you have to add forums to the end of it to go anywhere. As discussed below, Rich LaPorte of Gone Gold infamy has now officially struck back. I'll post his statement before I post by Editor-In-Chief's follow-up. Here's Rich's own words about the situation:
24-Oct-2005 23:43

I thought you might be interested to know what's going on with Ron Burke and "Console Gold". About a year before GG closed, Ron wanted to buy CG from me and we agreed upon $9,000 for the domain. I've never seen a dime, but I haven't asked for any either. I did ask that he run my GoGamer ads and links until the site was paid for since I was paying for server and domain fees, but that request went ignored.

Finally he left the server, so now I'm only stuck for domain fees, which is only $30 a year anyway, but still, it's costing me money. Recently, he contacted me about getting the domain switched to his name. (We agreed to keep it in mine until the 9K was paid... after all, it's the only way for me to maintain control.)

I didn't want to come out and mention the 9K immediately, so I mentioned that I would look into it, seeing if I could make him a contact, while maintaining the domain in my name. Unfortunately, I had gotten ill and then had more surgery, so it took me awhile to get back to him.

During that time, he sent numerous e-mails to me asking if there's been any word. Now that I'm back on, I sent an e-mail explaining that I would be "in everyone's best interest" if the domain stayed in my name until our agreement was met. I then asked him if he had any idea what we could do to complete our agreement, since the site is still costing me money, however

I still haven't heard back from him, which is not like him. I'm wondering if he may try something like, getting a different domain and switching it (like *.org or *.net). What do you think?

If he would like to renegotiate the agreement, I'm even willing to do that (Hell, SOME of 9K is better than NONE of 9K, right?)... I'm a bit worried to be honest, especially since that money would come in very handy.

(At the end of GG and the reason it finally shut its doors, was that 3 companies and Mario Knoll didn't pay their advertising fees... the deal with Ron was going to keep GG alive, but as I said, he never paid me, nor did he run my ads so I could make something off the site to support it.)

I'm thinking of writing him a couple of more times and if I don't here from him, have the domain turned off... I hate to do that, but I know if done, I'll hear from him rather quickly.

26-Oct-2005 10:08

I decided to switch the CG domain to an "under-construction" page. I'm sure fireworks are going to go off shortly, but I'm tired of being a "nice guy".

Was on the forum tonight and saw a thread about the closing of GG. I'm not sure if I ever told you, but it was an accident that the site closed, while I was in the hospital and by the time I got out, I decided the damage was done and since I didn't have the strength at the time to correct it, I figured I would just "disappear". Not the way I wanted it to happen, but so much of my life is not the way I have planned it.

26-Oct-2005 13:23

At about 7:30 PM my time, I went to Network Solutions and changed the domain name to point to an "Under Construction" page. I also removed any technical contacts that where listed, aside from myself. After all, it is my account, right? Why should anyone be listed on it w/o my permission?

At 9:30 PM my phone rings... It's Ron Burke. Yelling into the answering machine, he leaves the following message: "Rich, I need you to call me IMMEDIATELY." and hangs up.

Mary Jo asked me if I'm going to talk to him and I told her no. I think I would rather handle it all via e-mail, so I have a copy of what is said and what is agreed upon. I did the same when negotiating the sale of the domain, so I see no reason to handle it any differently this time. Without the original copy of Ron's e-mail agreeing to the sale of the domain for 9K, it would be just my word against his. Better to have everything written down I think and besides, with the surgery to my throat, it stills hurts to talk.

I was in bed for the night when he called, but I decided to check my e-mail to see if he at least tried to contact me that way. Unfortunately, he didn't. To my surprise, there wasn't any e-mail from him. He went straight to the phone.

What has me curious though, is how he knows I put in for changes. Since I am the only one on the account, how could he know? I have changed all my passwords to be on the safe side. The only thing I can think of is that the "technical contact" was notified that he had been removed from the account listing and that is what has Ron upset.

However, he sounded way too upset to think that his only problem was not having a technical contact should something go wrong. Besides, it looked like the contact was for "Everyone's Internet", while his hosting seems to be through "Host Gator" and they don't seem to be connected. Wish I knew more about how this all worked.

Of course I'm starting to feel badly, but I'm sticking to my guns. He ignores my e-mail about our agreement, but finds the time to call me immediately once changes have been made... Which again is a bit weird since none of the changes have taken place yet, I simply applied for them. It will take 42-78 hours for them to take effect.

27-Oct-2005 04:21

Please feel free to tell my side to anyone, publicly or privately. I refuse to jump in for MANY reasons, but having the truth out there would at least level the field.

Having Game Trends in the wings tells me one thing... Ron was NEVER going to keep his end of the agreement, period. Why else would he have the other site, "month's in the working" as the post on CG says. I laughed when I read that the fact this is happening one year since GG was shut down is no coincidence. lol Actually, it is.

As far as me going to read the other forums, when GG shut down I considered myself gone from the gaming community for good and plan to keep it that way. If it makes everyone feel better to hate me, so be it. I don't deal with anyone and don't plan on doing so, so let them rant if it helps. I have no ill feelings towards anyone and can understand their frustration to a degree.

I just wonder when no one is mad at Ron? Heck, he had a year to do something about Console Gold. He KNEW he didn't own it. Why did he stay so long? Why didn't he protect his community and move to a new domain as soon as he knew I was getting out of the community.

Because he wanted to try and play me. Hoping that I would just give him the site or probably die shortly and he would have it anyway. He's so pissed because he got caught publicly and now he rather it be my fault than his own.

Feel free to convey any of these thoughts as well my friend.

27-Oct-2005 04:46

One of the things that IS bothering me is that the community does indeed suffer once again. I honestly thought this would be a day or two "inconvenience", but it seems that the "Under Construction" page will be up longer than I imagined. Since it doesn't cost me anything, I don't care, but I would like to help out those that come to the site looking for the forums.

For obvious reasons, I do not want to direct people to Ron's site, but would like to point to the Forum's you mentioned. Not sure how they are set up, but can a URL point to them? I would gladly allow it to point to them for the rest of this years domain fee and next.

That would mean, come April 07, the domain is no longer on my dime, however they are welcome to keep it if they want to take over the expense.

I'm sure they're going to ask "Why would I give them the domain, but not Ron?". Anyone that followed GG for any amount of time knows I'm a big "principle's" guy. RON agreed to pay 9K for the domain, no one else. If he had offered half, I would have given it to him... Hell, if he was honest up front at told me he wouldn't buy it, I may have given it to him... but he didn't.

SO my offer to them is that the domain can point to their forum and in a year and a half, it's theirs to own if they want, free of charge.

If they ask to have their URL pointed to on the "Under Construction" page, tell them that I believe this is just a generic page in which I can make no changes. If I find out differently, I'll gladly list their URL with their permission.

At least this way, the community will have somewhere to go.

28-Oct-2005 10:01

Wanted to ask your opinion before posting, but got on with Tech Support to find out how I go about putting up a page of my own and I wound up posting it. (It only cost me 15 bucks for a year, so I did it. Once the year is out, the domain will most likely go back to an "Under Construction" page.)

Once it was too late to wait to post, I asked MJ if she thought it was appropriate or too strong and she thought it was fine since it mentions no names and at least some explanation to people.

I wanted to direct people to the OO site for two reasons. One, you told me they are the old GG community and two, since you told me Ron is all over their forums, I'm sure he has posted his new link, so eventually old CG's will find their way to him. I did this for the gamers and not for Ron, of course. If it were for Ron, I would have linked directly to the new site.

Today was the first time I've been to the site and went only to the main page for the URL, but was very impressed with what I saw. I hope with this link they'll get some more good people to post and please apologize to them for me if their forums are a mess... I didn't mean for that to happen of course. Also, if they want that linked removed, I will honor their request.

Anything I say to you, please feel free to relay to other's, unless I ask you otherwise.

The comment on the main page of CG is the most I will contribute to this conversation publicly. Let Ron blast me as he likes... in the end, what does it all matter? That's why I'm not going to bother reading anything because I'm only human and know I will be dragged in trying to defend myself. My time is more valuable than that.
Okay then, that's one side of the story. Here's the other side, Ron Burke's response:
I'll gladly discuss.

First up - I don't doubt the legitimacy of this email, it does have the specific price we agreed on. I'm sure all of this is 'true', from Rich's point of view. Unfortunatately, this doesn't jive with the reality of the situation.

As I've said before, Rich and I agreed on a price and I agreed to pay him. However, he has left a great deal out of this email. Since he is airing the laundry, lets get it all out of the basket, k?

Roughly 18 months ago I negotiated with Rich (who appeared out of nowhere) to purchase the domain Certain expectations were set forth:
- Rich was to pay for the domain registrations
- Rich was to pay for the hosting for our site until the domain purchase balance was paid in full (or as it was stated "Until we get on our feet financially")
- The price agreed upon was based on further support by Gone Gold. We would work together to make all of this happen.
- Rich picked up a cell phone and gave me the number. "Call anytime Ron. Let's stay in touch."

So lets tackle these in order.
- Rich paying for domain hosting - didn't happen. Eldon paid for year one, I paid for year 2,3,4. I can get receipts and post them if you'd like.
- Rich paying for hosting: Stephen couldn't keep the server stable, so we had to leave. I'll give him the pass on this one, but I've paid the server costs for the last several years at $50.00 a month + the cost of shipping. Again, I have receipts. As for getting on our feet, we are still several thousand dollars in the hole financially. We have yet to turn a profit - CG, and now GT, are run out of my pocket entirely.
- Further support by GG - didn't happen in any shape or fashion whatsoever.
- Stay in touch. I've got registered letters, dozens of phone calls to two phones, and dozens of emails that have gone unanswered.

After all of that, what would you do? We started THINKING about moving months ago. We started PLANNING on moving about 2 weeks ago. Anything after that point is past the point of no return.

Did I call on the day he shafted the community? I called the number that I got off of Netsol when I noted that it had been updated. When the site went down I called Hostgator, my terrible terrible ex-host who is prone to falling over all the time. When they said that the NS servers had changed, I knew something was wrong. I called Netsol and was told that Rich had logged in and changed the NS. The gig was up at that point.

Did I intend to honor my end of the deal? You are damned right I did. Am I gonna send checks to somebody who won't pick up the phone (I guess his throat hurt for the last 18 months) or make an attempt to make a contact of any kind? No. I don't know if my checks are going to Rich or Juan Valdez. Since Registered mail didn't work, why should I think my check would arrive? At this point he is absolutely right...he has broken our contract and broken my trust. It really wouldn't have taken any effort from him to get this deal on track. Mary Jo could have called, he could have written, he could have done anything...but instead, he did what he has always done - nothing.

In short, Rich can go fly a kite. Here's where things don't add up at all. He says that despite Ron calling him, he decided to keep it strictly to e-mail. Oh, and his throat was sore after a surgery. Hey Rich, that's why you type up a list of questions, hand the phone to your wife Mary Jo, and have her ring Ron right back. So right there is indeed a massive communications problem, not to mention the most glaring one of all:

Instead of registering at OO and posting this himself, he "approves" his friend Andy (who's a nice guy, by the way) to post their e-mail correspondence on the forum. As though this will automagically absolve him of any wrongdoing in the past and bring the faithful flock back into his good graces. Hey Rich, this one's for you:

Image hosted by

You may have once held tight my good will along with that of others, but from now until the end of time you will be the dirt I scrape off my shoe. Anything you do with your sites now is irrelevant to us, and that is just fine. Go your own way, and we'll go ours.


Image hosted by

I'm honestly stunned by the simple beauty of this one-sheet for Spielberg's next film. While I outright hated War of the Worlds, I have high hopes for this story of the Israeli vengence which followed the massacre of their athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. It hits Christmas day which, in my opinion, sucks because I won't get to see it until later that week. But even when Spielberg is off, his talent and skill are lightyears ahead of the rest of Hollywood and I'm dying to see what he has in store for us. This is my most anticipated film next to Harry Potter 4.

And Then There Was Gaming Trend...

So the site I worked for went belly up today, and no one knew why until a few hours ago. Long story short, the original owner proved himself to be a vindictive ponce and screwed us. As such, long live Gaming Trend. It's not live yet, but should be by the weekend. Feel free to stop by the forums and sign up for some quality conversation and fun.

This accelerates a plan that was to go into effect at the first of the year, so while we were obviously caught off-guard, a back-up plan was already well under way. As it stands, our contacts in the gaming world to a one are supportive of this move and happy that we're now standing on our own. The plans we have in store for the site are massive in scope, and the last hindrance to us moving forward with those plans is now out of the way.

Viva le Gaming Trend and a big screw off goes out to the man who backstabbed us.

Greatest. Videos. Ever.

By now, I think I've watched this video about a dozen times and I'm still gasping for air. Let's just say they're teaching something in China these days that's definitely not on the US curriculum. For additional fun, check out this link for more. God help me, this is some of the funniest stuff I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Can't They Just Shut Up and Game?

If you listen to Microsoft and Sony talk about their respective next-generation systems, it's almost impossible to separate the outright lies from the outright bullshit. Frankly, I'm sick of it. Everytime either company opens its mouth, nothing but crap flows out. Instead of recognizing how blatantly they're insulting a public that is starting to know better, they just keep at it like everything they say is pure gold. Only Nintendo is out there showing off their TV remote and acknowledging that they're a strange company with wacky ideas, but at least they can honestly say they're trying something new.

If you want to see how far up his own ass Microsoft Cheerleader J. Allard's head is, check out this interview at Edge Online and reveal in such bon mots as:
"You know, being first you sometimes get some crap, and we’ve had some crap. But I think it’s very pro-consumer and very pro-developer, and I think that in five years everybody will look back and say that this was a very, very good move on our part to launch worldwide and to have the flexibility for consumers to decide on their products."
He's referring to the double-dip customers are walking in to come late November. The scaled down version of the Xbox 360 and the normal version with all the trimmings.

He's still reciting the company line that gimping the main console and promoting it as a "good idea" is sound business. I guess walking around saying "this is fucking stupid" wouldn't have gone over well with Big Bill, whose ego, I'm convinced, has completely gone over the cliff.

There was a story a few weeks ago that told of a meeting between Big Bill and one of the Sony heads where Bill tried to convince the Sony guy to move Blu-Ray tech closer towards HD-DVD in terms of PC compatibility. The Sony guy told Bill that Blu-Ray tech would work just fine as it is. The translation was simple: the Hollywood studios, notoriously fickle when it comes to security, realized that Blu-Ray used more secure codecs than HD-DVD and was planning on announcing how they were collectively jumping to that one format. Microsoft freaked out because suddenly their arch-rival was about to reap a windfall, and suddenly they're promoting HD-DVD instead of remaining neutral as they'd first planned.

In a word, Big Bill found himself pwned.

But as much as I rag on Microsoft for routinely proving themselves to be the 800-lbs. gorilla people love to hate on, Sony is about as far from innocent as its possible to get. Everytime the Sony head (whose name honestly escapes me) talks about how powerful and uber-awesome the PS3 will be, my head hurts. E3 this year was nothing but vaporware for Sony because it's since been proven that everything they showed was pre-rendered based on spec technology.

Translation: Ignore everything you saw at E3 2005 because it may or may not be close to reality.

We'll find out next year when the PS3 hits (in theory) but I personally agree with Bill Harris - Sony is way behind and will never once cop to it. Why should they? Microsoft is openly insulting the public by throwing a crap unit into the marketplace for no reason other than they can say they have launch unit at $299. Sony coming in at $450 or higher just will not sell in the States, period. So who cares whether the public gets hosed in the process?

The bright side of things is that two warring companies pissing on the little guy, historically, always has the same effect. The little guy wakes up, and learns more about what's going on then takes steps to ensure this doesn't happen again. Microsoft and Sony both are going to learn a hard, harsh lesson come generation four when the people they hosed this round, are looking elsewhere in the next round.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Don't F.E.A.R. the Reaper

I'm currently working on my F.E.A.R. review over at Gaming Trend which hopefully will be up next week, and I have to say I'm impressed. My thoughts on the demo was that the gunfights were amazing to the point where they demanded replay after replay, and Alma was one heck of a creepy villain. After playing a few hours worth last night, I finally arrived at the office building where the majority of the story supposedly takes place.

Two things: The first is that I'm honestly surprised it took as long as it did to get to this point, and two is a simple HOLY CRAP!!!

The second the chopper you're riding in lands on the roof the office building, you come under fire. Instantly hoping out and returning fire leads to one of the most intense gun battles I've ever played. The AI is nothing short of amazing, and I can't wait to see how it reacts when I up the difficulty. The gunfights lead to debris and smoke flying everywhere, along with hugely bloody effects. For example, I was flanked by two enemy soldiers who were crouching behind crates. I opted to charge the one on the right and as I left over the top of the crate I discharged my combat shotgun and the blast tore his head clean off. I landed close enough to the one on the left that when I fired into his midsection, it blew him in half.

I immediately reloaded and played through the scenario several more times. I think I honestly spent an hour on that rooftop last night just fighting the soldiers in different ways, and watching how much of the terrain we destroyed. It's brilliant fun, and if you just turn off shadows it runs smoothly.

I can't wait to get inside and see what else is in store.

So it's been a while...

It must be disheartening to my three readers that almost a month has gone by with no updates or thoughts. Or maybe my ego is still flying high from last night. Either way, here's in brief what's been going on:

The last three weeks were devoted to work and nothing but. While My Fair Lady was consumed by event after event and two massive legal papers at school, I found myself spending more than a few extra hours at the office. My production company was responsible for crafting a 35 minute show for a Las Vegas trade show, and did it under the tightest deadlines I've seen in a long time. March, actually. Which was when we did our last trade show.

I cannot stress enough how poor the time management is at my current company.

For example, we have nine clients who appear in this video. All well and good by itself, but when sales is not explicitly given a cut-off date, what happens? More and more sales will be made, and the time frame to put together the show shrinks because the deadline for the show to be completed never changed. So as that window shrinks, tensions frequently rise, but nothing comes of it because the executive level gives not one care about how put upon the workers are. To them, the working class should simply do what they're told and remain grateful they're employed.

Capitalism in full swing, baby.

So the primary editor and primary writer on the show spent pretty much every waking moment at the office for two weeks straight pounding this beast out. The rest of us took care of any and all day-to-day work because we all knew that we'd have little to no time to create all of the deliverables (i.e. DVD/CD/VHS copies among other things) once they finished the show. As it turns out, we had even less time than that because Project Management made more promises than they should have, and production's Vaunted Leader agreed. Like she does with everything that's handed down From Above. Regardless, we wound up with basically three days in which we had to do a week's worth of work. Having experienced this sort of deadline for a semester and a half while working as Entertainment Editor at the TCU newspaper, I felt confident we could do it.

Complete everything with time to spare was exactly what we did. The problem is, it should never have come to that. Even worse is knowing that despite a debriefing meeting the following Monday, where we made suggestions on what we can do better in the future, is that nothing if going to change. Period, end of story. The next trade show is going to be handled in the exact same manner, and those of us on the short end of the stick will get shafted. Joy.

It's times like these I find myself wanting to be my own boss. I create my own hours, set my own rates, and if I feel like treating myself to a movie during my lunch hour(s) then so be it.

Now is time for me to run out on an errand. More later today comeplete with updates on what happened last night to keep me up until 2 a.m. yet remain wide awake today, details on one of the best action games this year, along with some brief thoughts on why Batman Begins is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.

Monday, September 26, 2005

139 Words and Change

I think I've finally discovered why I don't like reading or hearing about legalese. According to My Fair Lady, the case she is currently using for research has a sentence that is nine lines in length and 139 words. No, Dickens had no part in it.

It's an insanity ruling from 1895, back in the days when lawyers were apparently paid by the word. This, despite my extensive interest and knowledge of history, was something I was unaware of.

I think it explains pretty much every grievance against attorneys since the dawn of time. Each ruling is a mini Ark of the Covenant in its denseness. Any mere mortal who so seeketh to divine the meaning of such cases, would be struck dead, or at the very least left incoherently mumbling since their brain was crushed by the sheer difficulty in untangling these word mazes. My Fair Lady read me the aforementioned nine lines, and by line 2.5 I could feel the walls of my skull caving in. By the time she hit line 5.3, I was drooling.

I don't quite recall lines 7-9 so either she took pity on me and stopped or I blacked out.

Current lawyers no longer are paid by the word, but in reading any current ruling (by current I mean in the last century), you'd think that whoever decided to no longer pay based on verbiage would have at least told the lawyers they could keep things simple. If anything, current rulings seem to go on even longer than they did 100 years ago. Time has shown us many things, and currently it shows me that attorneys of all ages throughout the ages have never let their love of their own intelligence get in the way of simplicity.

I guess that's why My Fair Lady keeps me around. Whenever she asks my opinion on how she should proceed with a motion, I shout out "Fry 'em! If they're crazy, tell them it's a ride! They'll love it!"

Reason #108 why I could never be an attorney.

Friday, September 23, 2005

LOST Opens Hatch, Finds Big Can of Whoop-ass

Despite my headline, I was not the biggest fan of the LOST season 2 opener. I liked it overall, and certainly everything having to do with what was down the hatch and how it might relate to the island was awesome (no mean feat considering the build-up last year), but the rest just felt like filler. Nothing in a given episode of LOST is ever simply filler, and while that was absolutely true Wednesday night, it still felt the show runners were just killing time until the final reveal. Which in turn leaves us dying to see episode two which is where the meat AND the potatoes are. Annoying to say the least, but the show is nothing if not an elaborate tease. I’m a LOST junkie, but I’ve no qualms about calling it out when it does something stupid, or silly, or both.

But regardless of how I felt about the episode overall, ABC literally killed its competition Wednesday night. CNN has posted a story with the details and the other networks are now looking like the boneheads they are for trying to schedule anything against ABC’s new giant. Considering how hard the show hit last year, and the final build-up to opening the hatch, how the hell could any network think that a show might succeed against LOST’s second premier? That the condensing of the first season into an hour as a primer also drew huge numbers, and then the premier of Invasion after LOST also drew huge numbers, means ABC killed everything in its path Wednesday night.

Remember how big a hit the first season of Survivor was? It wasn’t at first, becoming one of the last shows to actually build all season long based solely on word of mouth. It also didn’t have anything in the way of competition during the summer either, and in so doing it let CBS stamp its logo on the heads of a large cross-section of the TV-viewing public, who from that point on would follow the show wherever it went. Hence it has done well on the Thursday night battleground, and when coupled with the right shows it’s proven time and again to be a formidable opponent.

I think the only show that can survive against LOST is Veronica Mars, another cult show in the spirit of Buffy that has inspired a small legion of devoted followers. I’m personally dying to check out the show, but LOST is my first love of the moment and unless it turns really stupid, Veronica will have to wait until I hit it in my NetFlix queue. Looking through the CNN story, FOX in their wisdom killed off “Head Cases” after only the second airing in that time slot. Probably for the best because Chris O’Donnell can’t act, and the Hebrew Hammer is only funny in short bursts at best.

I remain amused at how the networks continually battle each other and always lose, when simple war-time strategy is all it would take to satisfy their egos and the viewing public. Look for vulnerable points in rival networks’ schedules, and exploit them by scheduling high-profile shows there. Do not put a high-profile show against a brand-new juggernaut, because the juggernaut will win time and again. I think LOST is going to reign that time slot through the rest of this year, and possibly into next but that depends on whether JJ Abrahms tanks his show in the third season as he is wont to do. The nets are going to have to wait until next year at the earliest before trying to chink away at LOST’s armor. Just get out of the way, and attack elsewhere. I’ll post my suggestions later for how TV can win both viewers and satisfy egos all at the same time. Hardly scientific, but hopefully Sun Tzu would be proud.

Rita Comes Calling...

... and the crowds go crazy. The third most powerful hurricane on record blasted its way into the Gulf of Mexico this week, and aims to hit land right on the LA-TX border sometime later tonight. With it comes no small amount of wind and rain, and the already battered New Orleans might find itself dunked under water yet again.

Yet I still don’t know what’s happening in Mississippi and thank you, news media, for setting the country’s priorities on the straight and narrow once more. New Orleans was hit hard, true, but go back for a second and watch the instant replay. At the last second, it veered east and blasted the holy hell out of Biloxi and other towns. New Orleans at least is still standing. Water-logged, but standing. Can anyone say the same out of some of those Mississippi towns?

So why are we still focusing on The Big Easy? Harry Connick, Jr. and others can go down there, say how shocked they are (I’m merely using Connick as an example, as I did see him when he arrived in New Orleans and he’s not a good enough actor to fake the disbelief and anguish he felt), and report on the devastation and complain about the federal response to what is first and foremost a STATE issue (and Governor Blonco should take a hearty helping of blame for failing to declare an emergency days ahead of time despite everyone warning her, because the government could not move in until she did so), yet we ignore a larger amount of destruction that’s only a few miles away. Go figure.

Regardless, we in Texas and Louisiana are in the path of Katrina’s younger-but-equally-pissed sister, Rita. The fun part is where Rita is heading – right across the motherload of Gulf Coast oil platforms and refineries. The latest projections have the storm missing the largest of the refineries, but still putting the hurt on both states even further. Here is the projected path the latest projections have compiled. Dallas is already swollen to the point of bursting with the LA refugees, yet here come another several thousand from Houston and the gulf coast.

The funny part is now we might get a little rain, and maybe some wind, and that’s about it. Yet tell that to the checkout lady I spoke with at Tom Thumb last night. When I went in to do some weekly shopping (nothing disaster-related, we were just plain out of a few things), the entire place looked like it had been raided. When I was checking out, I asked the checkout lady what it was like earlier in the day. The look on her face suggested I’d inadvertently provoked a ‘Nam flashback. All of a sudden she was face down in a rice patty being shot at by VC while her squad called for immediate extraction, yet all she could do was hold the line and hope to live through it.

Maybe I’ve just been watching too many war movies lately.

At any rate, it looks like the disaster of Rita may miss us physically, but is sure has caused a disaster of another sort on I-45. Houston is legendary for its roads and freeways being under 24/7/365 construction, so it’s pretty bad all by itself. But no city infrastructure has ever been built with the idea of 2 million people either coming in or leaving all at the same time. As such, the Houston and Texas roadways have come to a complete stand-still, and it’s just unbelievable to watch. You always hear or read about miles and miles of stalled out traffic jams in end of the world stories, but somewhere in the back of your mind it still registers as fiction. You still believe that in the real world, people would be able to get away from the destruction and make it to safety to turn around and fight the ultimate evil that always shows up later.

From everything I’ve seen the last two days out of Houston, Randall Flagg can rest easy knowing that were Captain Tripps to start making the rounds, people would pretty much be screwed. But as the hero of this story, I would still find a way to kick his ass and keep my girl around at the same time, so rest easy knowing I’m on the job.

Whiteboyskim – defender of the universe. Respekt.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I think Will Ferrell’s 15 Minutes are Up

I just watched the rather shady quality trailer for The Producers on Sony’s site, and I no longer have any curiosity about the film. I think it will do well overall, though the Christmas release date is always a bad one, in my opinion. But I won’t see it, nor am I even remotely curious about it, and the reason can be summed up thusly: Will Ferrell as the Nazi playwrite.

I am one of the few people who never found Ferrell funny on SNL, though admittedly I never found Mike Myers, Jimmy Fallon, Molly Shannon, or any of the crew from the mid-90’s onward funny. I’ll confess to being a bit biased because when I started watching SNL, it was of the 1970’s "Not Ready For Primetime" crew in re-runs. Maybe it was because SNL started at the top that there was no where to go but down. Maybe it was because high-octane comedians are just naturally funnier when they’re flying high on cocaine (for example, compare Robin Williams’ latest piece on Broadway to his late ‘70’s shows or even his 1986 HBO spotlight and the difference is staggering).

Regardless, SNL has been neither funny nor particularly relevant for some time, despite the A+ effort head writer Tina Fey has put into the show in recent years. With the SNL players increasingly heading to the West Coast for big-screen glory, I can only hope that future generations of SNL prove far funnier than "names" like Ferrell.

Not that the bar is too high to jump over. Heck, if it were any lower you’d have to dig to find it.

When any comedian "hits" and becomes the "next big thing," there is a period where they appear in just about everything, regardless of whether they are right for the part. Then after several movies, they calm down the work load and take one or two movies a year until they decide to work even less and only make one movie every two years. For examples, look at Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey’s respective careers. While I think both are among the funniest men alive, Ferrell wouldn’t even register as a pimple on their asses. It’s not just that he’s not funny, it’s that he produces stone silence from me whenever he’s on screen.

It took the big screen debacle of "Bewitched" to take a lot of the luster off his star, but I wish it took the star as well. Sadly, we’ll have to endure him again later this year as the German playwright in Mel Brook’s musical version of his stage play based on his movie "The Producers." I truly love the original Gene Wilder-Zero Mostel film, despite it taking about 15 minutes to really get going. The basic story is two guys, a failed Broadway producer (Mostel) and his accountant (Wilder), decide to produce a guaranteed flop, then collect all the investment money, default on paying their investors, and retiring to the tropics. They set out to find the worst play of all time, and when they find it, it proves to be a doozy.

"Springtime for Hitler" is the name of the play, and from the description of it to the hiring of the worst director ever, to the casting of LSD, "The Producers" is gut-bustingly funny. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick seem to have perfect chemistry for the stage play, and I was curious to see the film based on it. But after watching Ferrell act like a loon for the umpteenth time, I’m done with him. He appears in anything as a major or supporting character, and I will not buy a ticket. Period.

I can only hope his star will either drop off the map, or ascend so high he’s only in one movie every two years. Either way, it’s easier to avoid him.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Fun with Atrophy

I feel like my leg muscles have atrophied in a big way. Last night was a whole mess of no fun, considering that I pseudo-slept the night away with a big lump in my throat courtesy of yet another sinus attack. Let me state again for the record that I hate my sinuses and have since birth.

Maybe I’m allergic to September, or maybe it’s Dallas, or both. It seems that going three days without DayQuill coursing through my system wasn’t the best idea, so my sinuses hit me again last night. Popped some DayQuill and a vitamin, then did the same this morning before I came in to work.

Now my legs feel like they’ll barely support me. Combine that with my outright exhaustion and no breakfast and I’m stunned to find I’m actually in a good mood. Odd how my personality works, eh?

The good news is that I don’t have to run a 5K today. The bad news is, it’s still 20 minutes before I can head out to lunch and even then I have a lengthy errand to run which will keep me away from food for probably another hour. Joy!

Maybe I’ve been looking at this the wrong way, sort of like the Clinton Administration did on terrorism. Whether you agree or not with how the Bush Administration have handled things, they at least correctly approached international terrorism as a war and not as a simple legal matter. I now must declare outright war on my sinuses, and for that I need food, and lots of it. Energy For the Cause. Viva le Revolution and all that. My Fair Lady has grown increasingly concerned that I’ve been losing too much weight, and not only does she have a point, but it finally hit me as to why.

These sinuses combined with sickness from two weeks ago have sapped a lot of strength and weight off my bones, and it’s time to put it all back. So while everyone else is concerned with losing weight, it’s again time for me to worry about putting it back on. In a former life, I must have been an actor who specialized in roles requiring weight loss/gain. If only I had the Oscar to prove it...

Monday, September 19, 2005

These Shoes Were Made For Tripping

It’s an odd thing to be unable to walk in a pair of shoes you purchased many moons in the past, yet have not worn for a while. That’s what happened to me all morning at work, and since I don’t drink, I’ve been unable to blame my stumbling around on a hangover. In thinking about it, maybe I should take up boozing. Other than making my job easier to endure, I’d have a good excuse as to why I’ve been stumbling all over the place today.

North Texas has about as much seismic activity as the dunes of the Sahara. The ground here dries up frequently which leads to houses shifting and large cracks forming in the ceiling, but we come up short on earthquakes each year. So why is it that the ground was moving left whenever I would go right today? If I hadn’t caught myself as I stumbled at one point in the men’s room, I’d have gone spelunking in the john.

The shoes themselves are nothing out of the ordinary, simply black dress shoes. Were My Fair Lady in the room, she could tell me what shade of black they were, who made them, where they were made, and how they make my butt look better based on how I stand in them. From my point of view, they were one of two pairs of black shoes I own, and they were closest to me when I opened the closet door this morning. And now I can barely walk in them without stumbling.

Should I wear the black pants I have on again this week, I think I’ll venture further into the closet and find the other pair of black shoes. Being able to walk fearlessly might be worth an extra step into the closet.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Weight Fluctuations

In college, I could down an entire Jack in the Box bacon ultimate cheeseburger, after an appetizer of chili cheese fries and an eggroll, and wash it down with a large Dr. Pepper, then still be hungry for dinner. I suspect that my collegiate diet might have worn down my stomach’s resistance to pretty much anything. Some things will now set my stomach off so I get to spend the next few hours in the men’s room, yet it can handle other things that would make the average person double over in pain. The fun part is I never know when either will occur so now every meal becomes a sort of Emeril Roulette.

After the last round of “stomach tomfoolery” which was a couple of weeks ago, I swore off fast food, and since then have lived up to my promise. The only places I now eat at that could be considered “fast” are Subway and Chick-Fil-A, neither of which have grease in the sandwiches I order, or are particularly quick in processing orders. I think all that grease and fat has finally passed through my system, because I haven’t felt any stomach pains in weeks and my weight has dropped.

I’ve felt a little less like myself for the past two or three weeks, but the reason why didn’t hit me until last week. After getting a haircut, a few people at work jokingly asked me if I was losing weight. Bear in mind that I went from shaggy to sharp overnight, and have a narrow, angular face with high cheekbones. When my hair is longer, it tends to give the impression of having more meat on my face than I guess I actually have.

So I weighed myself and found out that I actually have lost some weight over the past few weeks. As I sat there and thought about it, I came to realize something – all that fast food really did add up.

Go figure.

Now comes the part where I try to put some extra weight on, or at least turn the existing weight into muscle. The idea being a buffer, toner, me for next year. I hit the magic number 30 in 2007 and want to go into that decade healthier than I was in the previous one. Make no mistake – my 20’s have been all about abusing my body, but now that I’m closer to the end of my 20’s than I am to the beginning, it’s time to start thinking about the future. I always figured a diet like mine would cause my heart to go Alien on me about the time I hit 35, but it seems my stomach cut that plan short. Probably for the better since I’ve grown quite attached to My Fair Lady, and I don’t fancy the idea of her waking up one morning to find my chest exploded all over the credenza. I also have no idea what a “credenza” is per se, but it sounds like it fits in with my scenario.

Ideally, my 30’s will be healthier and stronger than my 20’s were. That’s the plan, anyway. My Fair Lady and I have talked at length about getting healthier and that includes joining a gym next year after she graduates law school. We share an attitude of grudging obedience to the needs for exercise, but we do it when we simultaneously pressure each other. Since neither of us like to waste money, we both figure that if we join a gym then we’ll have no reason not to go work out at least two or three times a week and tone up. It’s a solid plan, because it manages to both inspire us and prey on our weaknesses at the same time.

Exercise, thy name is "Devious."

Thursday, September 8, 2005

NewsCorp + IGN = High Comedy

The raucous sound of laughter on the internet today is from gamers the world over mocking Rupert Murdoch's $650 million buy out of IGN, Inc., which is about $630 million more than he should have paid for it. With that purchase comes ownership of several sites including IGN, FilePlanet, GameSpy, Rotten Tomatoes, AskMen.Com, and others. In one fell swoop, NewsCorp bought up a hearty chunk of the online gaming world, and if this isn't a sign of sheer desperation on the part of Big Conglomerates I don't know what is.

For all the complaining that people on the Right and the Left do about the current state of the US economy, no one seems willing to acknowledge that we lived through the Second Gold Rush, better known as The Internet Boom. The early to mid 1990's was truly when the internet exploded the world over. Everyone everywhere with access to a phone line had access to vast amounts of people and information, moreso than ever before. Overnight, companies popped up online and offered good and services that sometimes could barely keep up with demand, if at all. It mattered not a whit, as several of those sites were purchased for obscene amounts of money, and Wall Street traders reveled as their stocks soared higher and higher.

The funny thing is, no one looked behind the curtain until it was too late. Once that bubble burst, stocks across the board that were over-inflated rolled over and died, and millionaires became paupers overnight. At this point, you economists out there might be asking, "What does this quickie history lesson have to do with why you think NewsCorp. buying IGN is funny?"

Simple - they grossly overpaid for a terrifically underperforming octopus with so many tentacles that NewsCorp. must have figured their investment would pay off in some form. A big company like NewsCorp. doesn't do something like this unless they see an opportunity to strike gold.

Where they'll find the gold at IGN is unbeknownst to me. I know no one who goes out of their way to read IGN for anything insightful, they have hands-down one of the top three worst layouts on the web (and that includes porn sites), the infamous McGriddles episode ranks as one of the worst ad-crazy sprees ever witnessed, their writing is poor, and they care more about the "I'm first, you're not!" mentality than they do about gaming in general. I laugh when I read their grossly over-inflated scores, or when they say a game will change the face of gaming forever when all it actually is is an annual update to a stale franchise.

I have no idea what NewsCorp. has in store for IGN, but a healthy round of mass firings followed by a healthy redesign would be a strong first two steps. Bill Harris at Dubious Quality made a sound point on this today when he said that this also marks the entry of truly giant corporations into the gaming market. I have to agree on that, and his assessment that Walt Disney could actually buy out EA might be spot-on. Were that to happen, I would also laugh long and hard because EA is so bloated and utterly useless now as a game developer, that I will go out of my way to avoid in-house titles from them.

I'm sure the diamond in the rough might slip out sometime, but that's what reliable gamers on the internet are for. The ten-year-olds who spam the IGN boards thinking they're cool because they can write l337 remind me of the vaptards who frequent the Aint-It-Cool-News talk backs, which is one among many reasons why I go out of my way to find truth on the web.

Now that's a diamond in the rough. But if you can plough through enough junk out there, you'll be surprised at what you may find. I suspect it will take about six months before NewsCorp. realizes they've bought a hefty chunk of fool's gold thinking it was the real thing.

Tales from a Lawyer-in-Training's Spouse

I've been having great fun with My Fair Lady tonight because she has to deliver a speech Friday afternoon at school for a mock trial. The short version is she is delivering her closing argument in a case where her "client" was an apartment complex who was being sued by a woman that knowingly left her baby unattended next to a water faucet famous for spewing nothing but hot water.

If you think the baby managed to cook itself with the bath water and the woman then sued the complex out of refusal to accept personal responsibility, give yourself a cookie.

I took a swing at writing My Fair Lady's closing argument, but managed to side track myself by returning to variants of the phrase "hang the beyotch." Yet again, another reason why I would never make a solid attorney.

Lawyers on both sides of the court seem to have their BS meters turned off at some point in either their schooling or their experiences. This will be especially amusing to see happen to My Fair Lady because her's is so sensitive that she puts Robert DeNiro's Meet the Parents character to shame. I guess that comes from having a dad who worked white collar crimes for the FBI for close to 30 years. The man is one of the most laid back and relaxed people I've ever met, but to hear tales from My Fair Lady's youth, he was someone you never wanted to cross "back in the day."

That's pleasant to hear, because he still is required to pass quarterly shooting tests at the Dallas office's firing range which means he still knows how to kill me in one shot.

Apparently, she's now reading about how people are left-brained or right-brained and pointing out how lawyers are all left-brained and people who write about lawyers are all right-brained. I get the feeling she's talking down to me, but I stand by my initial statement that the chick in her case should get the chair. Hey, it may be inflammatory, but it also sounds good to me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Fun with Sinus Attacks

I understand that God has an odd sense of humor. I get it, and frequently can even appreciate it. But I sincerely think He was out of His gourd when He thought sinus-related health issues might be good for a snicker. Every March-April and September-October I find myself hacking, sneezing uncontrollably, and blowing through enough Kleenexes to fill the New Orleans levees. Thus far, my 2005 record was spotless, and I was beginning to hope I would survive the year without an attack.

That hope was shattered at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday night when I discovered I could no longer breathe through my nose. The ability to breathe is not to be overlooked, nor should it ever be overrated.

Sunday wasn’t too bad as most of my symptoms dissipated, but I realize now they weren’t ready for their assault. Oh no. They backed off casually, called their friends, had them bring their friends, then thought it would be really funny to launch a full-scale attack on me Monday morning around 4:30 a.m. You know, right about the time people tend to be so deep into sleep a bomb next door won’t wake them up.

If human begins were designed by committee, then I want to find the SOB responsible for sinuses and kick the holy crap out of him/her. This stuff isn’t funny, and certainly not when it’s repeated a few times annually. I enjoy looking forward to Christmas. I do not enjoy looking forward to my sinuses beating me like a dog two or three times a year. Last year was even more fun than this one because normally it's My Fair Lady who has sinus problems the entire month of September, and our wedding date was Aug. 28. Think for a second and you’ll begin to understand how fortunate we were to post-pone our honeymoon until January.

DayQuill is my salvation, and I’m all about popping it like M&M’s. The box says to wait 12 hours between doses, but my body chemistry seems to react better if I stagger it every 6 hours for about three to four days straight. My Fair Lady disagrees with this self-diagnosis, but I do what works. Heavy doses of anti-sinus medication work for me, period. It may not work for you or your neighbor, but it works for me more times than not and so long as I have a chance of fighting this crap off then I’ll dance with the devil I know.

I’ve heard rumors of surgeries that correct sinus problems, but those same rumors tend to end with a variant of the phrase, "… after the swelling went down, I stuck a huge pair of pliers up my nose and pulled out the gauze." I am not so vein as to be afraid of swelling post-surgery, as I am (thankfully) no longer in the dating pool. But when people tell me there will be things left in my face from the surgery that I will later have to go in and forcibly remove with a tool my brother-in-law gave us as a wedding gift, I get concerned. I suppose if I were drunk enough, I might be able to pull that off (or out as the case may be). However, as the frequency of my drinking has been limited to one occasion in this lifetime, I would be more concerned with friends and family wanting to come over and video tape the whole thing and then stick it on the internet once I passed out from the pain.

Obviously, I would only do this were I alone with no video or camera equipment anywhere in the house.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

In the aftermath of what is now hailed as the worst natural disaster the United States has ever seen, much ado is being made of the humanitarian effort and the response time to it. These people are missing the point that around two million people (give or take) are now left with a whole lot of nothing to their lives courtesy of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating storms ever to make landfall on the continental US. When all is said and done, I'm sure plenty of blame will be left over to go around.

For starters, why not lay it squarely at the feet of an architect ~250 years ago who thought it would be a good idea to build a city inside a bowl that's roughly six feet below sea level? Or at the feet of everyone in the 200 years since then who has gone out of their way to ignore the problem. In short, can it.

In other news, check out this satellite view of New Orleans courtesy of the NOAA and Dubious Quality. No, they're not partnered together (that I know of) but DQ crafter Bill Harris doesn't get enough love on the web these days. I am, of course, joking.

If I can figure out how to post pictures via Blogger, I'll do so of My Fair Lady and I's trip to the Big Easy roughly six days before Katrina blew it off the map. We left on a Monday, and by the following Sunday New Orleans was under 20 feet of water in some places. "Humbling" doesn't quite cover it, but if I can share the pictures we took, I will.

As you might have heard, donating to The Red Cross is about as strong a thing as you can do right now, but The Salvation Army is also accepting of anything and everything right now. Watching the news, people have generally said the same thing about how they were utterly wiped out. The people in the Texas refugee shelters have almost to a one stated how they might just stay. To all of them, I wish you the best of luck, and we Texans will do everything we can to help out. Godspeed to you all.