Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Why I Could Never be an Attorney Part Deux

My Fair Lady spoke to me earlier this afternoon about how her law school's Gay & Lesbian Alliance held a meeting to protest the JAG from coming onto campus and interviewing people for a prospective career in desert legal manuevers. Apparently, the G&LA has a problem with the military's historically less-than-favorable views on same-sex couples, and as such want to, ahem, bar the JAG from coming anywhere near the campus. In response, the JAG (and the federal government, by proxy) has threatened to suspend any and all federal funds from not only My Fair Lady's law school, but all other law schools who want to enact the same anti-JAG ban. Were I a judge and I heard this case in my court, my response would be the following:

"You're both wrong, you're both in violation of the Constitution, STFU and get out of my court. Oh, and you're both paying for lunch."

Thinking like this is probably why I'm about as close to joining the Supreme Court as the guy who lives by the supermarket and talks to the nearest wall.

Why I Could Never be an Attorney

My Fair Lady read a description to me just now from her Estates & Trusts book. To say it gave me a headache would be a mockery of my pain, but the thing that got me was how frequently the same word, "Decedents," was used. Try every third word. Here's another word for you aspiring lawyers out there: Repetitive.

The punchline is that apparently the treatise she read to me was a math problem. Not one time did I hear so much as a number, yet I was expected to keep pace with the rapid-fire arithmeticery in spite of the fact there were no numerical values anywhere. When I asked her about this, she replied "Oh, it's a word problem!"

Friday, August 12, 2005

Volkswagon's Little F-U to the Public

So I get home from Day 1 of the 2005 Quake Convention last night just before 5 p.m. the phone rings and it's My Fair Lady. She's stuck at her office because her car has a flat tire. It wasn't flat when she left her car to go into work, yet it's flat when she came out of work. Two things would cause this. The first being a puncture by something, and the second being someone slashed her tire.

There was no evidence of the tire being a slasher victim.

I knew full well my editor at Console Gold would be displeased at my lack of immediate updates, but as I'm not sleeping with him I knew full well where I needed to be. So after uploading a few pictures to the site, I headed south to pick up My Fair Lady and offer comfort and support. I drive up and she's pissed. And now for a little background on My Fair Lady's emotional state.

She has varying degrees of happy, or she's pissed. There is either pure fury and flames coming out of her nostrils, or she ranges from extremely happy to moderately perky. She is filled with a mighty amount of joy, which usually leads to people looking at my somber expression, back to her bouncing off the nearest wall like a ferret on speed, then back to me shaking my head in wonder. At this point I'll usually say a variation on the phrase:
"I don't get it either."
But such is Fate's Quirky Sense of Humor™ and I am most certainly Fate's beyotch. We now return you to your irregularly scheduled and sporadically paced blog.

I look at the VW Passat's tire, and it's about as flat as a tire can be. Next to it, all the tools for changing it are laid out and organized. This was the first time I'd seen a jack for a VW Passat, and it's a strange silver device not uncommon to 1950's sci-fi movies. Anyone that's ever encountered changing a tire on a VW Passat knows full well that one of the lugnuts holding the tire to the car is actually a secret lock, and you have to have the turn-key for it. The trick is two-fold: 1) you have to find the lugnut that's secretly the magic lock; 2) You have to have the magic key to unlock the magic lock, and good luck with that.

It's the size of a lugnut and should be in your VW Passat utility belt/tool kit. Naturally when we needed it months ago, it wasn't. So we bought one. Fortunately, it didn't wander off in the intervening months so I was able to unlock the magic lock only to discover the Right Hand of God™ had screwed in the lugnuts. This where modern machinery is both a blessing and a hindrance. I love knowing that an air compressor bolted those suckers onto the car so tight Hercules would look at it and say, "Sorry dude, you're walkin'." But when you find yourself in a bind, you have to recall that Hercules took one look and wished you well on your hike. After half an hour during which I exercised more than I have in the last month, four of the five lugnuts were loosened. This is when I found Volkswagon's secret little F-U to the public.

The final lugnut would not loosen up regardless of how much pressure and/or torque I put on it. Period. It then ocurred to me that this was Volkswagon's way of telling the public, "You can bust your butt all day long and get almost there, but you see that final one? That's ours, yo. Have your phone nearby 'cause you'll be calling us soon enough."

By this point I was sweating like a pig courtesy of working out in August in Texas. It doesn't matter where you are, be it under cover or in the sun. If you are outside doing any sort of manual labor in Texas from June through mid-October, you will sweat extensively. The only variable is how much. But that's not the best part.

My Fair Lady works in a, shall we say, "hostile" environment while going through law school, and most of her co-workers drove past us on the way out. Some even looked at us, then drove on about their way. A friend of ours later asked us if they could tell what we were up to. I made the comment that from the tools laid out on the ground, the fact that the car was jacked a foot in the air, and I was swearing to High Heaven™ while using said tools to forcibly remove a flattened tire, it could easily be assumed we were standing around waiting for a pizza to arrive.

Fortunately, an old comrade of hers drives up, gets out, looks at the lugnut, looks at me on my last leg ready to pass out, takes the tool from me and pops the lugnut out of its death grip. He assures me, "Oh I'm sure you would have gotten it soon enough."

I thank him by reminding him it's a long way to Christmas, which is about the time I would have loosened the damn thing enough to get the tire off.

He drives off and then it's hoisting the car back up, yanking the old tire off and slapping the new tire on, all whilst My Fair Lady looks on with encouragement. "I should be there helping you, you know I would be if not for these work clothes," she says while taking a deep swig from the cold Coke in her hands. I ignore her and focus on the task at hand - getting out of the damn heat.

Finally, the replacement tire is in place and we drive home. I'm driving her car while she's driving mine behind me, obviously listening to music and waving at me. All I can do is smile and wave back, and wonder about ways to hunt down the VW engineer who thought it would be a good idea for the Fist of God™ to lock the lugnuts onto the wheels. Any tips on ways to avenge myself upon VW are always welcome.

Postscript: There is currently a truck in the apartment complex behind us that has been blaring its car alarm for the last four hours non-stop because the vehicle's owner went to work about 15 minutes before a storm rolled in setting off every car alarm in the neighborhood. I've tried to take a lesson from all of this, and here it is: All cars have quirks, foreign engineers will slip a little knife into you when you're not looking, and listening to a damn car alarm for four hours can lead one to extreme violence. Watching a Dallas cop come by and check the truck, only to open the car door, lock it, then drive off leads one to believe that all Dallas cops suck. With that, I'm going to sleep with the pillow over my head.

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Cliche or Cliche to be?

1Up has a pretty funny article up on gaming cliches, and before I head off to bed I wanted to address a few of them.

10) Big Heads Cheat. It seems with just about every game developed by anyone with even a slight sense of humor (or a bigger sense of irony), we have the cheat option to make everyone's heads... bigger. This is a fun side-game in UT2K4 where the bigger the head swells, the easier it is to shoot it and where the trick is to stay alive the longest. That's some fun times. Otherwise, what's the point?

8) Unnecessary Stealth. If I wanted a stealth game, I'd have bought Splinter Cell not God of War. I buy a game called God of War where the main character is a brute who tears harpies apart with his bare hands, and I expect, nay demand, some high-octane violence with a Grecian flair. What I do not expect is to sneak around and hope something that I'll wind up fighting in 20 minutes anyway doesn't hear me. Do not give me a game, 98% of which is pure combat, and tell me that for one mission only I can't use a weapon, regardless of the fact that I'm armed to the teeth. This = teh stupid.

4) Ridiculous portrayals of women in games. I agree with the statement at 1Up - "Women have breasts. Get over it." When I see games like Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, I genuinely become embarrassed for the females who enjoy gaming and work in the industry. When I was at E3 in 2003, I saw Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, arguably one of the greatest games of all time, and was lead through an elaborate demo by one of the artists. She was a very cute French-Canadian lass who seemed passionate about her job, and loved seeing the result in a game that shows off the developers' love of it in every frame. When I played the sequel, I imagined this same artist gritting her teeth while putting the textures on any of the female bodies in the game. When you consider that gaming stands on the precipice of becoming truly mainstream or finding itself beaten back by ignorance (thank you, RockStar), attracting women to the industry can only lead to bigger and better things. I know of no woman who isn't insulted when she sees a game like Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and who doesn't immediately think that the developers are all 15-years-old and have just discovered women.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the games industry is poised on the edge of a knife. Stray but a little one way and it will fall into darkness. With the monumental stupidity of RockStar Games giving rise to further Washington idiocy, the industry and hobby which I love so much might soon find itself with a big bootmark on its backside. With so many billions at stake, I don't think gaming is going away anytime soon. But the industry desperately needs to pull its head out of its ass and recognize the need to move forward, not just rely on "what worked on the Super NES." That won't cut it any more, kids. It's time to take steps forward and think outside the (x)box.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Parting Sorrows

In accordance with my boss-rant last night, I'd like to chime in and bitch for a second at my bosses because they canned a buddy of mine this afternoon. The way the organization worked is this: It grew quickly and included starting up our own advertising agency with a grand total of four people, and a few months later the CEO decided he didn't want it anymore. But simply shutting it down and canning the agency employees would have been too simple. He decided to do it one at a time all while fighting against the lady who headed the agency, who to be fair was an extreme control-freak bitch not unlike my current boss. The difference being she butted heads with the CEO instead of being his personal sock puppet.

BTW - I will henceforth call my direct boss Socko.

Anyway, my buddy Clint, the agency's graphic designer and a damn good one, was let go today. He'd only been the designer on the artwork for five of the current projects I was working on, and his fucking useless superior, the "creative director," who makes a lot more than Clint does, remains on staff. The "creative director"'s idea of designing graphics is telling the person who's actually created them, "I don't know... something's off." The designer will make a small change and then the boss signs off on it, and the "creative director" accepts the credit.

Such are the ways of insulting the workers at my company.

I would laugh at how management-heavy this organization has become if it wasn't so tragic. The nimrods at the top think their idea of saving money is to stripmine the staff and pile on the work under the auspice of "future hirings" and still expect us to not only agree to it, but to actually beg for more.

I don't recall signing on for so much dumbassery when I jumped to this company. It'd be one thing if I was well-paid and had quality insurance, but since neither is true I'm forced to look in the mirror and wonder what I'm still doing there. I actually had a relaxing weekend planned, and now it's looking like a good time to update my resume and job hunt. The longest I've worked at a company is close to two years, and I've only been here since April of last year, 2004. When I started, I genuinely wanted to stay and contribute as much as possible. Considering I'm not even listened to by Socko, who insists I should learn how best to help out despite everyone telling me that they neither need my help nor have anything more to teach me about their jobs, and I'm by and large shunted into the "fix my PC!" IT-guru roll I so desperately wanted to leave, I've found exactly zero reasons to stay.

When people were let go about a year ago and before that, they always said the people were the best part of working for the company. Considering the company seems to go out of its way to can all the quality people, what exactly will we be left with in the next six months as the remaining elements of the production department all quit in digust?


Thursday, August 4, 2005

Bi-Polar Boss Disorder

Short of My Fair Lady, the longest I dated anyone was a Latina girl in college for a year and a half. After six months, I should have dropped her like a bad habit and run for the hills screaming, but held onto the pain primarily out of low self-confidence. The whole "I don't know if I'll ever find anyone else..." mantra that the young go through, only to later realize that with 3 billion-plus women in the world, my odds of meeting anyone were damn good. During said relationship, she was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, the short explanation is basically this: Tie a wildcat and a hyena together by the tails, tranq both of them, then throw them in a sack together and stand back. When the drugs wear off, all hell is going to break lose and you're only safe by running as far away as possible.

I've now come to think of my boss as bi-polar. Either that, or a living, breathing, hand puppet with the CEO's hand so far up her ass if she leans her head back, we'll see his fingers as an Adam's Apple.

I work in a production company that produces what amounts to glorified infomercials and corporate videos. My boss is the head of the production department and her boss is, naturally, the CEO. He's known for flying off at the slightest thing, and she's become known as parrotting anything and everything he says. Case in point was our weekly meeting this morning.

Just last week, our boss was talking about the need to reign in the creativity in favor of turning-and-burning product. Shortly thereafter, the CEO talks about needing to improve the quality. Cut to today and she's talking to us about being more creative and doing what we can to boost quality and creativity while still maintaining our turn-and-burn attitude and go-team-go spirit.

The silence in the room was, to be blunt, deafening.

The punchline comes mere moments later when she informs the room of how she will henceforth examine "approval" copies of our work. She plans to examine "approval" copies and then see where we can be more "creative" and then give it back to us, all while point at the boss and saying, "See, I did something!" Meanwhile, we busy bees plot ways of getting her fired because we know she's kicking back things just for the sake of kicking things back so the boss thinks she's doing something. I laugh consistently when she takes on assignment after assignment only to delegate it to her "wunderkinds," our two production assistants/travel coordinators/whatever-else-they're-called. They know everytime she accepts something that it's only going to fall on their shoulders, and have accepted this with a grim sense of inevitability.

After a point, I'd have figured they would snap and take out the whole office, or at least the management wall. I'd also say that if I don't post for a few days to take that as a bad sign, but considering the (in)frequency of my posts, that might not be such a hot idea.