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072007: Moving! I'm moving. I'm tired of hand coding all of my entries and am moving to a Tumblog. This site will remain until further notice, but will not be updated. Well, the feed page will be updated since it automated, but the feed will also be integrated in my tumblog. So, for future reference, the new Ball of Confusion can be found at confusion.tumblr.com I've been posting to it for a few days now and the entire feed has already been imported so there's already plenty of new stuff. Anyway, there you go.

VISIT THE NEW BALL OF CONFUSION AT...


confusion.tumblr.com

062507: Manhunt 2 I don't know if you follow the gaming headlines like I do, but here's my current gaming beef. Rockstar games, the good people who brought us the Grand Theft Auto series, recently released Manhunt 2 to the ratings board and received an "AO" or Adults Only due to excessive violence. I have no problem with this. There are many retail outlets who refuse to carry Adults Only titles, so you won't see this title in stores such as Wal-Mart, Gamestop, or many others. I have no problem with this. Here is where I have a problem...

Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft refuse to allow Adults Only titles on their platforms. Just so you know, all console games have to be licensed by the owners of those consoles and these companies reserve the right to deny licenses. So, Rockstar Games spends years working on the follow up to an, although horrifically violent, very enjoyable game and it is essentially dead in the water due to censorship.

Many people are rallying against the ratings board. I find this incredibly short-sighted. I do believe that this game should be adults only. I believe the original Manhunt probably should have been adults only. I believe that, if a parent determines that their child can handle adult only content, the parent should then be able to procure said content for their child. The ratings system was designed to help parents in making these choices. The console companies have turned this system into a censorship tool. The problem is the big 3: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

If you've been reading my crap for a while, you may remember the story of Thrill Kill. In short, it was an innovative, 4-way fighter for the Playstation 1 which, due to violent content, was never released. It was eventually leaked onto the interenet in many different stages of development, including the final version. Will a full, unedited Manhunt 2 be "released" the same way? One can only hope.

061407: What ISN'T in Wikipedia, Part 2 Welcome to part 2 of my 93255.6 part series. Just today, I made a "Ghost in the Graveyard" reference at work. Slowly, I came to the realization, I no longer remember how to play Ghost in the Graveyard. What to do? Of course, check Wikipedia!

I give you, the rules to Ghost in the Graveyard as recorded by Wikipedia...

  • This variant is played outdoors after dark. The "it" player is known as the "ghost in the graveyard" and runs away from the group to hide. The other players start at a location chosen to be "base", close their eyes, and count aloud to 12 in this fashion:
    "One o' clock, two o' clock, three o' clock rock! Four o' clock, five o' clock, six o' clock rock! Seven o' clock, eight o' clock, nine o' clock rock! Ten o'clock, eleven o'clock, twelve o' clock rock! Ghost in the graveyard!" (or also "midnight!")
  • At this point the group ventures out into the yard or forest in search of the "ghost". If any player sees the ghost, he yells "Ghost in the graveyard!" and all players run as quickly as possible back to base, which is sometimes also called a "ghoul". The goal of the "ghost" is to tag another player, thus making him the "ghost" for the next round. If all players make it back to base safely, the "ghost" retains that role for the next round.
  • The game can also be played using a house, school, or other building to create a course. In this version, all players must circumvent the building to reach the base again in order to be safe. Because players must follow a rough itinerary (albeit either clockwise or counterclockwise) and get past the ghost, the ghost has the opportunity to ambush passing players, sometimes at very close quarters.
  • Another variant on Ghost in the graveyard is similar to musical chairs in which there are a finite number of spots, generally referred to as "graves" at the base. For example, in a 5 person game, there may be only 4 "graves". Gameplay continues as above, except after a player finds the ghost and yells, "Ghost in the graveyard!" it is a race back to the base to claim one of the remaining "graves" The last person to arrive with a spot ends up as the "ghost" for the next round.
  • Another variation on this game is called "Bloody Murder" the game has basically the same rules as mentioned above except the exclamation is "Bloody Murder" instead of "Ghost in the graveyard".
053107: What ISN'T in Wikipedia, Part 1 Welcome to part 1 of my however many series of posts regarding the odd things you'll find in Wikipedia that no reputable encyclopedia would ever touch. Today's selection comes from the entry on the movie Pootie Tang, which I can't seem to get out of my head recently. I give you, the Pootie Tang translation guide...

"Bammies." - many interpretations and usages
Wa Da Tah! "Sa Da Tay." - generally positive interpretations
"Wa Da Tah." - many interpretations and usages
"Sepatown." - many interpretations and usages
"The Tipi Tais." - generally accepted as "the kids"
"Dirty Dee, you're a baddy daddy lamatai tabby chai!" - a threat, an insult, or both
"What's the Dabble Dee?" - generally accepted as "What's the matter?"
"Main Damie." - generally accepted as "Best Friend"
"Well Bob, I'm a pone tony." - explains his achievement in many diverse fields
"I'm going to sine your pitty on the runny kine!" - a warning to his enemies of impending punishment; also used to smooth-talk the ladies
"Ma Dilly." - seems to refer to a female "Damie"; he refers to Biggie Shorty as his Dilly
"Nay-no" - A convoluted way of simply saying "no"; "I can't say the Nay-no my brotha."

051507: Marshall, Will & Holly So I'm shopvaccing the basement floor. I have the "T" shaped floor attachment on. Suddenly, I have a flashback to a Land of the Lost episode. Some, or all, of the "lost" characters are in a pylon tweaking the crystals to transport them to different worlds. One of the worlds has a large creature that looks like a yellow version of the attachment I am currently using on the shop vac. Funny how the mind works. Off to wikipedia I go... Sleestacks Attack from the Back

What I found at wikipedia put my miniscule childhood memories to shame. Apparently, the Land of the Lost world had a much deeper plot that I remembered. Then again, I was very young when I watched it, so I probably viewed it as a prehistoric romper room. Some of the major plot elements I had no memory of include..

  • The world is a "pocket universe" that wraps around itself the same way the video game "Asteroids" does. Apparently, there was an episode where the family is exploring a very high peak and can see themselves from behind via binoculars.
  • They were not the only humans trapped there. There was a civil war soldier who somehow got trapped there and, for some reason, brought a cannon through with him. You'd think I remember that.
  • The world is powered by a large "crystal heart" in a pit that absorbs, well, stuff.

I also learned an interesting little behind the scenes tidbit. If you watched, you probably noticed that you rarely saw more that 3 sleestacks at a time. I didn't notice, but you might of. That's because they could only afford 3 costumes and, with the except of some Donna Reed-type special effects, there were only 3 max in a scene. Also, some ex-Detroit Piston I've never heard of, because I don't follow basketball, played a Sleestack.

All 3 seasons are out on DVD. It's getting very tempting.

043007: Blanky McBlank Idon't know how it started but at some point in our popular culture we started creating nicknames that followed the pattern of Blanky McBlank. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's some of my favorite examples...
  • Surly McDouchebag (my personal favorite)
    from Mission Hill
  • Horny McWhackWhack
    also from Mission Hill
  • Hootie McBoob
    from The Simpsons

Does anyone out there know where this originated? I think the first I heard of it was Shasta McNasty which, strangely enough, I never watched. It somehow seeped into my unconscious and caused me to create a Tony Hawk character named "Stanky McStink" which became the first thing I'd set up in every iteration of the game.

042707: This is the Beginning Well, it's been over a month since my last, "real" entry. I suppose I should write something...

Let's talk about the new Nine Inch Nails CD. Here's what I love about Trent Reznor. Most musicians use their exposure as a soapbox to preach about their disagreements with the government. They give us long-winded sermons about all the things we should care more about and what we should be doing. When faced with extremely vocal Christian fundamentalists, a poorly executed war and government ignorance on environmental concerns, what does Trent do? He does what he does best, creates music. Year Zero

The phrase "concept album" doesn't come up all that much these days. Trent has changed all that. Year Zero presents us with a futuristic America where the Christian fundamentalists have claimed the government and declared war all everything non-Christian and American citizens are kept complacent via a steady stream of drugs in the water supply. Most of the details of the story don't come from the cd, but from the various hidden web sites that Trent has encoded throughout the cd, marketing materials, intentional leaks and even T-Shirts. Trent truly understands viral marketing.

Story aside, how does Year Zero stack up as a cd? Quite honestly, better than I expected. It's not his best, but to be fair, The Downward Spiral and The Fragile are such amazing pieces it's almost unfair to expect anything better. Year Zero is a great example of Trent's obsessive attention to detail and amazing skill in sound design and, overall, pretty darn cool. All though, I do have 2 bones to pick with you Trent. 1. The very beginning of "The Beginning of the End" sounds way too much like "My Sharona", 2. "The very beginning of "Meet Your Master" sounds like a slowed down version of the beginning of "Worlock" by Skinny Puppy. Are we channeling Ogre? Oh, and while I'm thinking of it, trying to keep the down beat on "Survivalism" drives me nuts. Please don't do that upbeat singing thing anymore.

nin.com
031207: A Brief Update I apologize for that crappy live version of "March into the Sea" in my last post. My box.net account has a limitation of 10 megs and my copy was around 13. I've since re-encoded it and managed to squeeze it under 10 megs. It's not the best quality, but its a lot better than the previous live version. I've updated the link in the original post. Enjoy!

In other news, the podcast Coverville recently aired it's second "Worst Covers" show. The leading track was one of the most painful things I've ever heard in my life, yet for some reason I can't stop listening. I'm talking about Old Dirty Bastard and Macy Gray covering Elton John & Kiki Dee's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart". Words cannot express how bad this is. Just listen. I take no responsibility for any emotional trauma which results from listening to this track.

030607: A Good Day to Die This Friday, 300 is unleashed upon us and I'm looking forward to it more than I though I would. I typically don't go for action flicks and almost never go for historical flicks. 300 is something more that doesn't conveniently fit into either of these genres. What is the draw? Could it be the computer generated landscapes and otherworldly effects. That will be cool, but I think what's drawing me is something more primal. It's something I call "The Caveman Effect."

What is "The Caveman Effect"? It's that part of all of us that knows it can solve any problem by beating the crap out of somebody or something else. Have you ever gotten mad at your computer and beat the keyboard? Have you ever kicked your car for breaking down? You may think you're venting frustration, but you're not. You don't have an immediate solution to the problem, so your mind reverts to the most primal solution available: violence.

300

Often, this reflex takes innocuous forms, like the 2 examples above, and we suffer little more than sore knuckles. Sometimes, we can surprise even ourselves at the primalism we're capable of. I first became aware of the "Caveman Effect" several years ago at a party. There was alcohol, but it did not play into the thoughts that arose. Present at the party was a married couple I had recently become friends with though a mutual friend. I enjoyed spending time with them mainly due to the personality of the wife. I won't go into specifics, but she was very fun to be around, more fun than I'd had in a good while. At one point, the idea entered my mind that all I had to do was beat up the husband and the wife would be mine. Naturally, the remaining 99% of my mind immediately countered this thought, but the fact that this thought even arose surprises me to this day.

I'm sure we all have this side of ourselves, and many of us deny it, but it is there waiting for a malfunctioning machine, a woman, or a movie to quench it's thirst.

I don't know much about the soundtrack for 300, but I've assembled a short one of my own to get in the mood...

Leonidas & the Spartans Theme: Russian Circles - Enter
Xerxes Theme: Mogwai - My Father, My King
Entire Show: Mogwai Live at Smirnoff Music Center on 2004-08-14
The Immortals: Ministry - Corrosion
Battle Theme: Pelican - March Into the Sea
021507: A day late, A dollar short. Every year I intend to feature a valentine's day mix of dysfunctional love songs, but I always seem to forget. Well, this year is no different. Lucy for you, I remembered the day after and decided to do it late. What follows is 11 classic songs of love. Maybe not your traditional sense of love, but love nonetheless. Here you go...
  1. Joe Jackson - Fools In Love
    Why do fools fall in love? Because they're fools! Duh!
  2. Ben Folds Five - Song for the Dumped
    The greatest break-up song ever written. Never come between a man and his black t-shirt!
  3. ILUV ORAL
  4. Eels - Restraining Order Blues
    E is the king of the dysfunctional love song. This is a prime example.
  5. VAST - Pretty When You Cry
    This song is just wrong, which makes it right for this mix. At least he's being honest.
  6. Peaches - Fuck the Pain Away
    This song has been in my head since I saw Jackass 2. I think it fits.
  7. Morphine - A Good Woman is Hard to Find
    Preach on brother. I love the line "I want to be happy, but not all the time."
  8. Nirvana - Rape Me
    The masochist says "beat me", the sadomasochist says "no".
  9. Supersuckers - Pretty Fucked Up
    Classic love triangle to a rockin' blues progression
  10. Ben Lee - Catch My Disease
    This song isn't about STDs, but I like to pretend it is.
  11. Dead Milkmen - If You Love Someone, Set them on Fire
    What else can I say?
  12. Ween - Piss Up A Rope
    "You can wash my balls with a warm wet rag", best lyric ever!

All can be found streaming or by download here.

020707: I am not Speed! In a post last week, I mentioned a Speed Racer episode that severely traumatized me as a child. Well, I just recently realized that, thanks to an impulse buy at Wal-Mart a few years ago, I own the episode. Thanks to modern technology I can now share said traumatizing clip with you, the home viewer. Enjoy...

It appears I remembered the color incorrectly. He's not green, but more of an aqua. Regardless, Imagine you're 7 years old. Tell me seeing this wouldn't freak you right the crap out. Also, if there's anyone out there who can make out what he's saying, please email me. I got the "I am not Speed" part, but I can't understand the rest. Maybe it's the years of too-loud headphones. Anyway, there you go.

020207: Another List I'm bored. Here's another list.

Songs I'm slightly embarrassed to admit liking:

Nu Shooz
  • Janet Jackson "Love Will Never Do Without You"
    Something about the rhythm of this song is infectious. I don't understand it, but I like it.
  • Abba "S.O.S."
    Ever notice how much Madonna's "Like a Prayer" resembles this?
  • Britney Spears "Toxic"
    There, I've said it. I like it.
  • Nu Shooz "I Can't Wait"
    My iPod shuffled onto this in the car once. It almost resulted in divorce.
  • T'pau "Heart and Soul"
    ...and now it's going to be in your head all day!
  • Janet Jackson "When I Think of You"
    She's been at it long enough, she's bound to write a few good ones.
  • Martika "Toy Soldiers"
    C'mon, you know you like it too!
020107: Scary! At the risk of ripping off Merlin Mann's site 5ives.com, here's a list of 5 things...

Things that scared me as a child:
  • Stairway to Heaven. I can't explain this one. There was just something creepy about the song. Not creepy in a horrific sense, more dreadful. You know that feeling you get when you first realize that things die? That's what this song gave me.
  • That Orchestral chaotic thing at the end of The Beatles' "A day in the Life". I guess I was just really sensitive to music as a child. This musical snippet even followed me into a series of nightmares.
  • The Speed Racer episode when Trixie had the dream that had Speed with the creepy, green, pointy goblin face. (apparently, I wasn't the only one traumatized by this. A quick googling brought up this article which briefly mentions the disturbing scene.
  • Needles, some things never change. Now, I know I have Vaso-Vagal Trypanophobia.
  • Clowns. I always thought they were creepy. "Poltergeist" cemented the deal.
The invasion has begun! The Mooninites have invaded major American cities. Emergency services have been notified and are attempting to quell the threat, but the war for mind share has already been won.Never Forget! In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, the good folks at adult swim thought it would be a good idea to randomly place magnetic LED signs featuring the Mooninites in major American cities. They've been up for a few months now, but someone recently mistook them for a bomb. It doesn't make sense to me either, but then again someone called in a terroristic threat a few years ago when someone placed signs reading "all your base are belong to us". People are stupid.

In light of this story, I'd like to take this opportunity to plug my wallpaper selection on flickr featuring my own Mooninite wallpaper. I liked them before they were terrorists.

Last bit on this subject. They are Mooninites. I've read a few stories and seen "Moomonites", "Moonomites", and other spellings. Moon + inites, get it? They're from the moon. Did I mention people are stupid?

On a final note, which has nothing to do with Mooninites, I released a new screensaver on my mac software site last night. If you have a mac, an like the show "24" go download my screensaver "Longest Day 1.0".

012907: Mix for a Monday Ireally don't have much for you today. It's just another monday. I'm tired and bored. Did I ever mention how boring my real job is? No? Well, it is. Anyway, I hopped over to radio.blog.club and whipped up a little playlist to help describe my feelings on this crappy, frozen Pennsylvania day. Enjoy.
God Bless Wikipedia:
Alien Hand Syndrome
Gropecunt Lane
Sedlec Ossuary
Trepanation
Klüver-Bucy syndrome
(Most articles found on the
Unusual articles page.)

Wikipedia: Meaning behind The Boomtown Rats' "I don't like mondays"

A few hours later...

God bless the wikipedia. Savior of the bored, friend of the procrastinator, treasure trove of the infomonger, mistress of the neophile. Somehow, it makes browsing the encyclopedia fun. Here's a few wikipedia articles I've used to kill some time on this crappy monday. They may reveal a little too much about my personality, but hey, sharing is caring right?

012507: In Defense of Chloe Warning: 24 fanboyism ahead...

I recently discovered the 24 fansite Watching 24, a site which keeps quite humorous leader boards on major character performance for each episode. One of the first things I noticed was a pretty harsh assault ot Milo & Morris' tastes for dating / marrying / groping Chloe. Sure it's pretty easy to pick on Chloe, on first glance she's an extra from Revenge of the Nerds, but as we've learned from the Revenge of the Nerds series: The geeks shall inherit the earth.

Chloe

Of course, she's antisocial. That's because she figured out early on that other people are pretty much a waste of time. In a field where computers can access everything she needs to do her job, most people are nothing but hindrances and are only good for 2 things: Instructions and Permission. Actually, make that 1.5 things since she doesn't usually wait for permission. She knows what needs done, so leave her alone so she can do it.

If you analyze the history of the show you'll see that there are only 2 people who consistently make the right call, especially in the face of direct opposition from superiors, Jack and Chloe. Now that I think of it, Jack isn't exactly Mr. Personality either. Though he's good at leading and working with other people, the minute they stray from his instructions they cease to be useful, or even better, they become pinatas who get the information beat out of them. I fully support torture, as long as Jack thinks it's necessary. But I digress. The point is, people are not opportunities for social interaction, people are tools to accomplish tasks and when these tools cease to function they loose their value. (I personally know several people who are tools, pun intended.)

Then there's the easy shot of picking on Chloe's appearance. What do you expect? She's a geek! She's not reading cosmo, she's reading programming manuals and satellite schematics! Nerds aren't necessarily bad dressers, they just don't care enough to become good ones. Besides, I imagine it's not easy to take the recoil of an M16 while trying to balance yourself in high heels.

011907: Yeah, I know... Yeah, it's been over a month and even the feed has dropped in new stuff. Believe it or not, I have a life. A life that involves actual responsibility. I don't like it, but what can I do? Anyway, I've been reading that an easy way to drive traffic to your web site (don't call it a blog) is by doing lists. In that spirit...

11 Things I've been doing which kept me from updating my web page...

  • Drooling over the iPhone. How freaking cool is this thing? It slices, it dices! Seriously, when's the last time anyone was excited about a cell phone? I used to think the Razr was cool, but it's a booger next to this thing.
  • Playing the newly released, Mac Version, of Super Mario War. Make sure you remap your jump button. I didn't at first and ended up giving myself an instant case of RSI. I supposed the developers aren't exactly experts in ergonomics.
  • Listening to The Best of Bootie 2006, a killer mash-up compilation. Download this thing, you won't regret it.
  • Drinking a ton of coffee from my new Senseo, which I ironically wanted so I would drink less coffee. Isn't it ironic?
  • Reading up on the Battle of Theropylae in anticipation of The 300.
  • Playing Dicewars! All the fun of Risk without the annoyance of other people. Not to mention game play is faster than a coked out ferret.
  • Becoming the Steve Irwin of feral cats. It's just a matter of time until I take a tail to the heart. I can't go into detail on this one for f'ed up reasons. Speaking of cats, anybody out there in the Pittsburgh area looking for a cat? We have several models to choose from.
  • Trying to come up with 10 entertaining things I can claim to have done over the last month.
  • Reading Violent Acres and Things my Boyfriend Says. Good stuff!
  • Eagerly awaiting the return of 24 and reviewing the kill history of Jack Bauer.
  • Staring in disgust at the shockingly anemic entry in the wikipedia regarding the Micronauts. There's got to be fanboys out there who can fatten this thing up!

That's all I got for now. I'll try not to leave you hanging for another month.

120106: The Feed In my never ending quest of generating more web site content while doing less work I've come across some nifty additions in Google Reader which allow me to post interesting articles from other sites with next to no work. I'd like to fully integrate it into my own personal content, but for now it's going to have it's own page. Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce The Feed. On this page, I will post interesting articles I've discovered in the various rss feed that I subscribe to. If the front page is lacking in new material, click on over to the feed. Chances are, they'll be something new there.

Also, if you haven't already, I'd recommend looking into rss feeds. They are an incredibly easy way to have sites you read every day delivered to you. Technology exists to make our lives easier, right? What's easier than having web pages delivered to you?

111706: The Console War The console wars are underway. In this corner, the veteran: XBox 360. In this corner, newcomer 1: The PlayStation 3. In the 3rd corner, the Nintendo Wii. Apparently, the boxing ring is actually a triangle. Anyway...

1. XBox 360: I have to admit, between Gears of War and Halo 2 I am tempted to join this camp. However, being a longtime Mac guy, it pains me to even consider giving Microsoft any of my money. Maybe someday I'll pick up a used one.

2. PlayStation 3: From what I hear, it'll be easier to find Bigfoot than it will be to find a PS3. At this time, there are no games for the PS3 that are really blowing my skirt up. Why bother? Besides, this is a 1.0 product. There's bound to be problems kinda like how the dvd drive on my PS2 has been gradually dying for the past year. Any of you PS3 buying suckers want to sell me your PS2 cheap?

Wiiiii!

3. Nintendo Wii: I've never been a Nintendo person. Although I played other people's NES systems regularly and bought a used first generation gameboy (you know, the off-white one the size of a mini-fridge?) I never cared enough to buy into their platforms. Now the Wii, which has the stupidest name of any product ever, promises innovative games with motion sensing controllers. This just seems like too much work. I don't want my gaming to involve epileptic gesticulations, I want to sit down and only move my fingers. Maybe kids have energy to spend on their games, but by the time I get to my gaming I am out of energy. No thanks. Unless LucasArts makes a lightsaber game for this thing. Until then, no thanks.

Conclusion: I'll stick with my PS2/Dreamcast setup. That's right, I still play my Dreamcast. Why? Three Reasons: 1. Dead or Alive 2, 2. Crazy Taxi, 3. Rez.

Other games that cost nothing:
Line Rider
vNES

111606: This, That & The Other So, here I we are again. Another buy nothing day is just around the corner. For those of you new to the site, buy nothing day is an event created by Adbusters.org to encourage people to avoid the rampant consumerism typically associated with the Christmas season. Specifically, they want you to avoid buying anything at all on Friday, the 24th (Black Friday). Personally, I have an enormous aversion to malls due to my past mall jobs and mild agorophobia, so I usually do this anyway. Plus, I'm poor.

I'll avoid the yearly rant. I really don't have anything new to add. I've already said all I have to say on the subject. So, lets move on to some more interesting stuff, and by interesting, I mean disgusting.

Thank you Bill Clinton. Thanks to your semantics defense (how you define "intercourse") the doors are wide open for freaks of all types. Just this week we have some sick bastard who thought it would be a good idea to have sex with a dead deer and use a similar defense. He's saying that the charges should be dropped because, upon death, the animal becomes a carcass and ceases to be an animal. Therefore: bestiality does not apply to this case and it should be thrown out. What? How does such a profoundly disturbed person get legal representation so willing to get him off? (no pun intended) What kind of legal system are we running where the courts are even considering wasting time on this? I can't believe I have to share my oxygen with morons like this. I don't think it's too presumptuous of me to assume that most people think putting your penis in a dead deer is a bad thing and should be grounds for, at the very minimum, intense therapy. If you read the article, make sure you make it all the way to the last paragraph where you find out this guy has a prior conviction of shooting a horse and having sex with it. In my book, that makes him a serial bestial necrophiliac. It's like a bad episode of Millennium. I say we cover his naked body with deer hormones and put him in a cage full of rutting deer. If he lives through that, we let him clean up in a nice warm shower and shoot him in the head. Then we drag the corpse to the side of the road and leave it for a month. During the course of this month, local law enforcement will waive indecent exposure charges for anyone who wants to urinate on his "carcass".

I would now like to take this opportunity to announce my candidacy for judge.

110506: Remember... R

emember, remember, the 5th of November, Gunpowder Treason and plot ; I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason, Should ever be forgot.

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'Twas his intent. To blow up the King and the Parliament. Three score barrels of powder below. Poor old England to overthrow. By God's providence he was catch'd, With a dark lantern and burning match

V for Vendetta Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!

Hip hip Hoorah !
Hip hip Hoorah !

A penny loaf to feed ol'Pope, A farthing cheese to choke him. A pint of beer to rinse it down, A faggot of sticks to burn him. Burn him in a tub of tar, Burn him like a blazing star. Burn his body from his head, Then we'll say: ol'Pope is dead.

-Popular British Rhyme

For further Reading:
Wikipedia: Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes Dropped
V for Vendetta

Site Note: I've removed the counter from the sidebar because the company providing it started adding annoying advertising. Screw them, I want to hand pick my annoying advertising!

102706: STFU This is a historic post. I am about to do something I've never done before and I'll most likely never do again: Dedicate an entire post to Barbara Streisand...

Apparently, Barbara had a little problem with crowd control at a recent show. It seems she did a little performance with a George Bush impersonator that certain members of the audience didn't appreciate. Personally, I don't know who's worse. They're both icons of evil. In her inability to handle the situation, she soon descended into the unladylike realm of obscenities. This in itself is not a ball of confusion worthy story, so what's the angle here?

Here's the angle. Some enterprising Myspace Musician has taken it upon himself to create what is probably the best piece of music that Barbara Streisand's voice has been a part of. Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Revolucian featuring Barabra Streisand in, STFU.

102006: The Good, the Bad and the ugly Halloween is just around the corner. For the first time in years, this actually means something to me other than it's time to break out my copy of Type O Negative's "Bloody Kisses". I will actually be home this year when the little hellions are out trick or treating. I have no plans of handing out candy. I'll probably just turn out all the lights and play Manhunt.

The other difference this year is that I now work for a company that is not only having a party, but also encourages dressing up. I really don't want to dress up, but it is my first year and I don't want to be labeled as the bitter bastard already. I suppose I should put some effort in. Enter the web...

The first thing I found in my search was this page of Transformers Costumes. Very nice, but way too much work. I'm going to have to spend 8 hours in that + a 45 minute commute. Of course, I could always go with a lower quality Optimus Prime costume. That still looks like too much work. (Note to self: Add "Shithouse Ninja" to my list of fun things to say."

I think it's more likely I'll choose something much more comfortable. Most likely, I'll go as a Mac. That looks easy AND comfortable.

101906: Addicted to Addiction I was just reading a story about internet addiction today. Did you ever notice that whenever something new comes out, some pop-psychologist starts building a new addiction around it? I’m not suggesting that there aren’t people who are genuinely addicted to things. My problem is with the nomenclature.

Addictions should not emphasize the object, they should emphasize the subject. When we use a phrase like “Internet Addiction”, we imply that some perfectly normal person encountered the internet and wasn’t able to walk away. We need to start putting the blame where it belongs.

Crapper

Addiction is a choice. With the possible exception of crack babies, everyone who is addicted to something chose to get to that point. Yes, some things are enticing and seemingly beg us to partake in them but for every one person addicted to something there thousands or millions who were able to resist the same temptation. Objects do not create addictions, we create our own addictions. I was chemically addicted to coffee for over 10 years. I recently chose to break that addiction because coffee was no longer helping me though early mornings, which was the whole reason I started drinking it in the first place. The only affect I got was horrible headaches when I didn’t drink it. Was coffee to blame for those 10 years? No, I was to blame. It’s my fault I don’t get enough sleep and try to make up for it by using caffeine. Was it easy to break? No, I had been trying to do it for years, but I made the choice and did it.

I was not a victim of caffeine. I merely made bad choices. I'm not going to pretend my addiction was better or worse than others. I am going to own up to the fact that it was the result of my choices and I was not a victim. Being a victim is easy. You don’t have to accept responsibility for anything that results from your bad choices. Life is just one big pity party in your honor while you continue to make the same bad choices.

My point is, when these types of stories are published we tend to demonize the objects while ignoring the responsibility of the subjects. I propose a relocation of the adjective. Instead of implying that something is a habitual bear trap just waiting to clamp down on our legs, let’s acknowledge the fact that there are people who have addictive personalities and have difficulty escaping the cycle of bad choices.

101806: Battle of the Bands God bless Youtube for bringing us timewasting nuggets like this little animated bit here. Take one part Terry Gilliam style animation, one part record store and one part Battle Royal and you get this little clip. The Battle of the Bands.

Speaking of Youtube, I found this little Facts of Life clip recently. I don't remember it, but that could have been due to the fact that I was too young to understand what they're talking about. Anyway, here's the clip: Buying Bongs.

Well, since good things come in threes, I suppose I should scare up another Youtube clip. How about a music video containing all the things that make life worth living: Kung Fu, Cowboys, Lasers, Robots, Unicorns and Public Executions. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Muse's "Knights of Cydonia".

101606: Bands that matter, Part 1: Mogwai You need to listen to more Mogwai. I know I've mentioned Mogwai before and I'm sure you thought, "I should check them out. Jeff likes them so they can't be all that bad." Let me guess, you never got around to it, right? Well, here's your second reminder. Mogwai

Although I've been listening to Mogwai for several years now, I didn't truly appreciate them until I saw them open for The Cure in 2004. I don't have words available to me to describe what an experience it was. Unfortunately, a large portion of the audience didn't share my enthusiasm and tended to drown out the band during the quieter portions of their music. Some people just don't get it.

Mogwai is a guitar based, instrumental band from Scotland. Yes, they are named after the cute little creatures that turn into gremlins if you feed them after midnight. There's no real meaning to the name, they just liked it. Their music is the sort of repetitious, building music that will never find its way heavy rotation on most radio stations. Their music has the feel of a indie movie soundtrack. The average song starts with a simple riff, usually very quietly, slowly builds into a huge wall of noise and just a gradually disassembles itself. Each song is a journey and well worth the trip.

Mogwai is not for everyone. With songs that typically go over 7 minutes, some people will get bored. That's ok, sometimes a 7 course meal is too much. Sometimes you just want a microwave burrito.

For further listening...

Mogwai, Live at The Fillmore on 2006-05-27 from Archive.org
Mogwai, Official Site
101306: More Rock, Less Talk We've discussed Pandora, now on to Last.fm. Last.fm is actually the first music recommendation engine I encountered. I’ve been using it for around 2 years now. Although it’s selections aren’t as good as Pandora’s, it does have some other advantages.

Where Pandora can only determine your tastes based on music of its own selection, Last.fm will actually monitor your listening habits in iTunes, Windows Media Player, or even from your iPod. This gives the engine a much better pool of music to determine your tastes from. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do a very good job with this information. Last.fm’s recommendations are based on other users tastes. In other words, if you listen to a lot of Nine Inch Nails and other people who listen to Nine Inch Nails listen to Tool, Last.fm will recommend Tool, in my case a lot. Last.fm is determined to make me a Tool fan.

The point is, people are the weak link in any system and determining recommendations based on other users does not do nearly as good a job as Pandora’s “Musical DNA” based system. However, Last.fm does offer a few cool things that Pandora doesn’t.

Last.fm has a social, myspace like, element to it. Each user has a page generated which displays their listening habits. Each page also includes links to other users with similar tastes (Last.fm calls them "neighbors") as well as weekly top artists, all-time top artists, and all-time top singles. Remember how I used to do iPod top 100s? Well, this feature is why I stopped. Last.fm now does this for me.

Last.fm also uses a separate application as opposed to the online flash-based player that Pandora uses. This comes in handy for the occasional browser crash. Not that browsers ever crash.

In conclusion, Last.fm is great for tracking your listening habits but just OK for recommending new artists. Being able to browse other users with similar tastes is also a neat plus. Those of you looking for a myspace type experience that embraces your musical tastes will love the neighbor and community features. Or if you want to track your listening habits, Last.fm is a must. If you're just looking to discover some new music, stick with Pandora. Personally, I use both.

101106: Pandora's Rocks! Rather than feature a band or album that you may not have and will have to take my word for on how cool it is, I'm going to talk about Pandora. I've been using Pandora for just under a year and it rocks, hard. What is it? You know how the radio sucks? Well, imagine if it didn't. That's Pandora.

Pandora will create a radio station based on your preferences. How does it do this? You simply provide it with one or more song titles or artist names and it does the rest. As it chooses songs, you can train it by approving or disapproving of the songs it selects. Pandora succeeds where others have failed by basing it's selections on "Musical DNA" rather than similar artists or songs. What is musical DNA? The basic elements of the song: Tonality, Meter, Sonic Construction, Tempo, etc. Pandora will feed up a stream of similar songs with any or all of these qualities. The result is very satisfying.

Pandora is free, but you can only save your stations by registering. If you follow the link in the sidebar at the top right of this page (or this one), you'll see I have several: Electronic (Ones and Zeros), Goth (Burning Leaves), Industrial (Industrial Evolution), and my Eclectic Station (madmonk radio) which combines all my tastes.

Are there any downsides? If Pandora is doing a crappy job of picking songs, you can only skip 6 songs per hour. (But between you and me, you can get around this by reloading the page.) You rarely need more than that. That's about it.

100506: So Say We AllTomorrow begins the new season of Battlestar Galactica. When we last left our ragged band of survivors, they had settled a god-forsaken rock at the request of their misguided, perpetually-horny, hugh grant-wannabe Gaius Baltar. (Is it obvious that I hate him?) Shortly thereafter, they were invaded by cylons and occupied without the least bit of a struggle. The Galactica and Pegasis jumped to a safe distance to decide what to do with their skeleton crews.

I hate Gaius Baltar. I have hated him since episode 1 of the miniseries. Although he is a essential character to the series, I would like nothing better than to see him killed off in the most painful way possible. I haven't hated a fictional character this much since President Logan of last season's 24. Anyway, due to his ties to major plot devices, I doubt I'm going to get my wish anytime soon. So here's my theory as to what's going to happen with Baltar.

We will learn that, shortly after the occupation, Gaius Baltar was detained in a high security cylon building for study or, more appropriately, a debriefing. I say this because we shortly learn that he is the model #1 cylon. Naturally, when he learns this he will be resistant due to his years of "sleeping". He will eventually agree to carry on the facade of his humanity in order to keep his mole status among the humans and their government. Hopefully, he will then choke on a chicken bone and die. I really hate him. 24 got rid of it's crappy president. Let's hope Galactica does the same.

I'm really not impressed with the hybrid baby thing either. Didn't they do the same thing in "V"? Do we really need that recycled plot device? Anyway, we'll see where the whole thing is going tomorrow night.

So say we all.

090806: These are a few of my favorite things.Words can be fun.  Some words are just fun to say.  I don't entirely understand the reasons why, but merely uttering certain words or phrases can bring a smile to my face.  Here are some of those words and phrases, in no particular order.  As an added challenge, I'll attempt to link each word or phrase to an applicable web page.

monkey, gubernatorial, turkey jerky, Beijing, Buddha Rhubarb Butter, eviscerate the proletariat, ballcock nut washer, pulled pork, Slappy White, Bea Arthur, Abe Vigoda, Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, duodenum, rum runner, tincture, salve, bag balm, prickly pear, bone suckin' sauce,

Wow, I just realized I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy with an unexplainable penchant for aging comic actors and actresses.
082906: You are not your Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs!One of my favorite movies is "Fight Club", but I never really analyzed the Tyler / Jack duality beyond the context of the movie.  I never really pondered  what sort of childhood experiences may have contributed to his multiple personality disorder.  Well, the answers are out there.  The books are already out and they predate "Fight Club" by a decade.  Jack and Tyler are the adult versions of Calvin and Hobbes.  Don't believe me, read this.  This guy makes a very convincing argument.  (Link down at time of publishing, local copy here.)

Want to know every possible fact regarding your birthday?  Try this.  Want a Bacon Wallet?  Try this.  Want to know what happens when you fill a supersoaker with WD40?  Try this.  Want to enlarge your penis?  Check your junk mail.

Lastly, how about some brain breaking flash games?  Here's 3 that have been my obsession this week.  Our first on is rumored to be a common part of the job interview process in Japan.  Can you get everyone across the river?  Next, there was once, back in the OS 7 days, there was a mac game called "Laser Lab".  The goal was to redirect your laser beam to various targets using mirrors, prisms and other such objects.   Well, thanks to our friends in Japan you can play it again, though it seem a lot harder that what I remember.  Once you've gotten through that, here's another 26 levels.  Enjoy!
082306: Snakes on a Plane - Postflight ReportLast week, several of my coworkers were surprised that I was actually paying to see "Snakes on a Plane." I quickly discovered that the attraction is something that cannot be explained. Any explanation not only makes you look stupid, but feel stupid also. I know it will not be an award winning, historical moment in cinema history. It's the cinematic equivalent of a bag of Doritos.  My expectations could not have been lower, but I had to see it. What is the attraction? If you have to ask, you'll never know.

The ideal viewing would be a Friday night in a college town. I was able to come close to that. My viewing was a Saturday night near a branch campus of Penn State University. The theater was half full (or half empty) of devotees with a sprinkling of "normals". There was cheering where I expected and the experience was a toned down version of what I had hoped for. But how was the movie? You know that Sunday afternoon movie that you can't stop watching? The one that's just good enough to hold your attention? That is "Snakes on a Plane". But, as I've tried to explain to others, the theater experience has nothing to do with the movie. The movie is incidental. Again, the only comparison is "Rocky Horror". Watch "Rocky Horror" in a theater and on DVD and you'll see what I mean.

Should you see it? If you have to ask then no, you shouldn't see it.  But the real question is, could it happen here?

In other news, no matter what you do, DO NOT download this song.
081806: Snakes on a Plane - Preflight Report I'm a big fan of cult films. The more obscure or esoteric, the better. My prize possession for a long time was my bootleg VHS of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" with Japanese subtitles. This was before the 20th anniversary edition which made it far to easy for anyone to own a copy. That release, combined with the Ashton Kutcher hosted VH1 anniversary special pretty much ruined the whole experience for me. Anyway, this weekend I will be doing something I've never done before. Witnessing a cult film in a theater on it's initial release.

Of course, I'm referring to "Snakes on a Plane". Based on the months of internet buzz, parody, and general hype, I've no doubt this will be an instant cult classic. I am writing this the morning after the national release. The initial reviews are predominantly positive. The consensus seems to be that "Snakes on a Plane" is a fun, B-Grade movie, which sounds good enough for me. I just want to be in a theater the first time I hear Sam Jackson say the line that has been hyped for months and was added to the movie based on popular demand...

"I have had it with these motherf*cking snakes on this motherf*cking plane!"

motherf*ckin' snake!

(Censored version on the Daily Show via YouTube.com )

If "Snakes on a Plane" is to be compared to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", then this line is the equivalent of throwing toast or doing the "Time Warp". The difference however, is that the one doing the time warp on screen is an established, successful actor who took the role just for the fun of it. You gotta respect that!

Related Links:
"Snakes on a Plane" fans Camping out for Tickets
Wikipedia's "Snakes on a Plane" Entry
The Mother of all "Snakes on a Plane" sites: Snakes on a Blog
Rottentomatoes.com Snakes on a Plane Page
Custom Message from Sam Jackson

071206: Nerd Alert RedIrecently read a little blurb somewhere about a new network of DNS servers.  For the non-tech savvy, DNS servers are what lets us find web pages by names such as "yahoo.com" instead of  "66.94.234.13".  Anyway, all of the world's internet traffic relies of 13 DNS servers.    Don't you think it's time we added some more?

Enter OpenDNS.  OpenDNS is a free service offering DNS name resolution, phishing scam interception, address typo correction, and much faster lookups that standard DNS servers.  I just reconfigured my router the other day to use their servers and I noticed an immediate increase in lookup speed.  I am not on their payroll and get no benefits whatsoever from passing on this information.   I'm just an impressed user who wants to spread the word.
070606: Ride the Lightning!Metallica's  "Ride the Lightning" has always been my favorite of their albums.  It was the perfect balance between their near-symphonic albums like "Master of Puppets" and their punk-metal of "Kill 'em All"    Well, I don't know what album this kid was listening to but it was definitely Metallica...

Ride the LightningCastle Rock - Jason Bunch was listening to Metallica on his iPod while mowing the lawn outside his Castle Rock home Sunday afternoon when lightning hit him. The last thing the 17-year-old remembers was that a storm was coming from the north and he had only about 15 minutes before he should go inside. Next thing he knew, he was in his bed, bleeding from his ears and vomiting. He was barefoot and had taken off his burned T-shirt and gym shorts. He doesn't know how he got back in the house.   full story

Of course, since Metallica is not available on the iTunes store, there's a chance that his music was less than legal.  I bet Lars is on his way to Colorado right now to kick this kid's butt.
062706: Snakes on the BrainSnakes on a Plane is coming, and snake fever is spreading across the Internet faster than a mutated strain of bird flu.  Will it be good, will it be bad?  It doesn't matter.  Somehow, this movies viral hype has made me want to see it regardless of how bad it looks.  I don't understand it, but nonetheless it's infected me. snakes!

I've recently discovered Snakes on a Blog.  Snakes on a Blog is the one stop source for all things Snakes on a Plane, including a recent Colbert Report clip that didn't seem as funny when I explained it to my wife.  If you've got the slithering airborne fever (the flying wiggles?), this is the place for you.

If you don't feel like sifting through Snakes on a Blog, Youtube has a crap load of Snakes on a Plane videos, including a recent official teaser.

Need to "Snake out" your computer?  Follow this link to get your official Snakes on a Plane Wallpapers.
062306: But Wait, there's more! I like coffee.  I really like coffee.  I've recently broken my chemical addiction to coffee, but I still enjoy a good cup here and there.  Even though I have such love for the magical, brown liquid, this commercial frightens me.

Lets cleanse the palate with some more soothing video from the web.  The makers of Ask a Ninja recently launched a new show called Hope is Emo.  It's about an 8th grade goth girl who mourns for chalk dust.   Sounds great, huh?

Lastly, we have my new favorite web show: Channel Frederator.  If you're an adult swim fan, you'll love Channel Frederator.  All indie animation, all the time.  Awwwww yeah.

Ok, seriously, that's it.  I got crap to do.
...older crap