Friday, December 19, 2008

Odd Fact

Bet you didn't know you could order Dave Mustaine (from Megadeth) blends of coffee.

Mustaine Blends at Networth Coffee (blends also available from Charlie Benante of Anthrax and wrestler Goldberg)

I trust no one more to satisfy my palate than the person that wrote the lyrics "I spread disease like a dog." I wish the names for the blends were more creative like Ashes in your Mouth blend or Brewing is my Business blend, etc...

If I drank coffee at all I would try it in an instant...Dave and the boys' music was a strong force in my life for many of my impressionable young years.

Weird Christmas Thoughts

Last night while trying to sleep - I have been semi-ill and sleeping even worse than normal - I had a weird thought about Christmas. I found it kind of absurd that Santa Clause keeps a Naughty and Nice List. It is supposed to be the holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ - I mean what happened to all the Sermon on the Mount stuff of turning the other cheek, giving to everyone who asks, and do unto others... How about "Judge not, lest ye be judged?" I understand trying to teach children to be good and do the right thing but this seems more like bribery and threats. Both of which I am NOT against but it definitely doesn't seem like the spirit of Christmas or Christianity. I am beginning to think the whole thing is a facade.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Two Minutes Hate Tuesday

Wrapping Presents

I can't tell you how much I hate wrapping presents. I do not have the patience to deal with measuring, cutting, and folding the wrapping paper. I still do it because I hate gift bags even more. I am the type of person who is only willing to cut the paper once (and the cut is by no means straight - it is jagged and sloping and generally looks like crap). Any extra paper just gets wrapped or folded around the box more...sometimes presents are covered in 2-3 layers. Yes, I am that lazy. My packages often have way too much paper on the ends and so it gets folded (or more likely just smashed down) to fit the package and then taped well. I try to look at it as my package having extra padding on the ends in case they are dropped. I also have an issue of getting the ends to match - one end ends up being way longer or one end is squared off and the other pointed or can't fold correctly because too much paper is causing the middle folds to hit or even they fold different directions. Admittedly my packages are a disaster. If I was to compete in the the 8-10 year old Special Olympics Present Wrapping Competition*, I would finish in about 7th place. Wrapping presents is a chore to me, a necessary evil in order to surprise the person with your actual gift. Gift giving shouldn't be work, it should be a joy. I hate it. It just feels like so much a waste of time when I know the person is going to just rip off the paper and throw it away five minutes later. Don't even get me started on all the different papers, ribbons, and bows...that just complicates everything exponentially.
Actually the second gift I wrap each year looks pretty good. The first one is always a disaster trying to get my fingers to remember what to do (and yes I'm way too lazy to take the paper off this abortion and re-wrap after all my tries, follies, and failures). But the second one looks good...then I realize that I just spent 40 minutes wrapping one gift, it is midnight, and I still have about 30 to get through. The rest are hasty affairs and corners are cut, folds are not exact, tape is used to help conceal the shabbiness of the wrapping job. I am definitely wrapping challenged and am not inclined to change my ways.

*Note - there is no such event and even if there was, there is no way that I would actually even be competitive enough to get 7th. Those athletes are spectacular and could best me in any event. They have all my respect.

End Hate

P.S. - Congratulations to Daron and Josh on your new iPod locks. Still one left if anyone is interested.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Favorite Things

Pinball: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (SWE1:TPM)

Although it is not my favorite Star Wars movie, it is my favorite Star Wars themed pinball machine (There are 3, I've owned 2 and have pretty extensive time on the third). This is the only pinball machine that I have purchased new in box...for a few reasons. First, it came out at a time when I was finally able to afford a new pinball (after college with a decent paying job). Second, my brother and I now had some experience with pinball machines and were not nearly as intimidated as when we first got into the hobby. Third, it was the last pinball produced by my favorite pinball company Williams/Bally. We happened to tour the WMS factory during Pinball Expo 1999. We saw these machines being built on Oct 23rd, on Oct 25th Williams announced that it was closing its pinball division (Pinball Black Monday).

Admittedly it is not the best pinball machine out there, but it was the second of the Pinball 2000 (P2K) line, that offered many unique features and so many possibilities for the future. P2K was killed before it could come into its own (possibly the decision to kill pinball had been made years no matter how well it did, it would still have been doomed). For a great look at Pinball 2000's creation and demise check out the DVD: Tilt - The Battle to Save Pinball. An interesting watch for anyone interested in pinball, engineering, design, marketing, or business.

What is great about this pinball:
  • Projects video onto the playing surface - ball interacts with video.

  • There are other great points like the pivot-buttons around the regular flipper buttons, the neon light saber, etc... but the video is the main thing. It is impressive, it is a whole new way to play pinball. This should have been the future of pinball.

What went wrong:

  • It had too much Jar Jar Binks.

  • The pinball developers were not allowed to see the entire movie while they were working on designing the machine...I think the whole picture would have led them to better designs.

  • It was a rushed production on a new platform...this led to a quick design that doesn't have as many shots as a well planned pin.

  • Die hard Pinball Fans are resistant to change and hated the new system before it even came out (let alone have played it).

  • Due to production issues (and Lucas dictations that it could not in any way come out before the movie), the pinball came out a little over a month after the movie hit the that time all the publicity had died down and a lot of people didn't like the movie.

  • Short sightedness by the company. Williams should have given Pinball 2000 a couple years to develop and mature before cancelling (but the lure of slot machines was too strong).

It is an impressive machine. You can get a taste of what could have been...but you are left hungry for what never happened. It is an easier game than some of my others so beginners like it quite a bit. I often get the following comments - "This is so cool. I've never seen one like this" or "How come they didn't make any more?"

P2K - I mourn our loss of you. You are one of my favorite things.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Minutes Hate Tuesday

No Scammers

I understand people don't want to be scammed or else be bilked out of their hard earned money or merchandise. Do some people really think that adding "No Scammers" or the slightly more polite "No Scammers Please" to the bottom of their eBay auction, Craigslist posting, classified ad, or other internet post is really going to deter a scammer? Just imagine the scammer's thoughts:

Scammer #1 : "I think this guy sounds gullible to fall for our ____ scam (insert: winning lottery, Nigerian Prince, over-payment/refund, payment after sent, etc...)"
Scammer #2: "Oh yeah, sounds like a real hick. Easy pickings!"
Scammer #1: "Shit. Wait, wait, wait...never mind. It says 'No Scammers' at the bottom. We better not."
Scammer #2: "Fuck! So close...if only he didn't ban scammers by typing that! We're busted."

I just want to shake these people and yell "Do you really think a scammer is going to care if you type "No scammers" at the end of your ad? No. They are going to try to steal from you, why would they have morals about going against your description? It just makes you seem dumb. Do you think there is some kind of Robin Hood type, honor bound thief out there? Get a clue. Unfortunately, scamming pieces of crap are people that you have to deal with on the interwebicon. It has happened to me a couple times (credit card number theft and sellers on eBay who just disappear after being paid) but I don't let it ruin my interwebicon experience and I don't assume that everyone is a thief. If you can't handle the possibility that you might be taken at some point...stay off the interwebicon.

End Hate.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mid December Updates

Go Meat!

After this weekend's games. The Iowa Chops have moved into first place in their division. First Place! I don't think they will stay there all season as the division is a very close race...but it is just nice to be able to say First Place. Never came close to saying that for the Iowa Stars...with them we were always like "They are only 5 points from fourth! If they win the next three games and Omaha loses, we will get in the playoffs!" It is a much better feeling starting out strong and I hope the Chops can continue this level of play throughout the rest of the season.

Check out your First Place Chops this Friday and Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena. You will be entertained (not only are they winning but they are also third in penalty minutes...our Chops love to throw down the gloves). Go Chops!

Bag of Crap
My B.o.C. finally arrived...woot! wasn't kidding when they used to say in their FAQ "that they shipped by the cheapest, slowest, most annoying way possible." That's paraphrased but not by much. What can I say, I paid $6 total and I did receive the product, so I am happy. So what did I get in my B.o.C.? Wonderful surprises? Long lost artifacts? 60" LCD TV? Sadly no.

Unfortunately, I do not really have a need for 3...actually even one since I don't have an iPod, so I will share the Bag of Crap love*. Send me an email through here or my profile page saying that you would like an iPod lock. Next week (probably on Dec 15th) I will randomly pick some winners next week, contact them for a shipping address, and send them out - hopefully for arrival by Christmas.
*This will only be available to people within the United States of America, and I am the final judge and decider of who wins (although I will be as fair as possible). Any selection that doesn't reply with a shipping address within a week will have their prize re-awarded to someone else...I don't want them laying around my house any longer than necessary.

Also contained in my B.o.C was this Lowepro Ridge 10, Digital Camera Bag (Amazon $8.95). Not too bad. I am going to probably give it to my niece America (human) as I know she is getting a digital camera for Christmas. Luckily my parents have crappy dial-up interwebicon that they never use, so I know I am not going to be ruining any surprises here.
All in all, I can't say that I was totally blown away by my Bag of Crap...but again it was a Bag of Crap so as long as it is not sitting on my front porch in flames I guess I am good. As I've said before, to me it is not about what I actually get, it is more about the hope and the Christmas like suspense that not knowing creates. My heart was full of joy when I saw the package sitting on my front porch. I am happy with my Bag of Crap and look forward to the next opportunity to buy Hope.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Few of my Favorite Things

Although I am mostly dead inside and walk though this life like a zombie who has lost his will to feast on brains, there are a few subjects that agitate my cold, thick blood into a state similar to passion. These include (in no particular order):

  • Pinball

  • Hockey

  • Shoes

  • Books

  • Music

  • Quirky TV shows

  • Puzzles/Games/Trivia

There are others...but these are the main passions in my life. For my own amusement, I am going to try to start profiling one of my favorites here each week...figure I am already doing a "Hate" post, might as well do a "Love" post too. Unfortunately, love is always more difficult for me than my default emotion of hate...and so I don't know if it will have a standard day of love like I do hate.

This is one of my loves:

Quirky TV Show: Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies is a very stylized show and might take a little getting used to. It reminds me of Tim Burton style, but not sad, depressed, dark Tim Burton - this would be a Tim Burton who is happy and loves bright, bold colors...odd architectural design, odd coloring, little touches that make it seem like a dream. I think a lot of the look has to due with Barry Sonnefeld directing and Bruce Cohen producing (he did produce The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, so he can have horrible taste too - although I admit that Stephen Baldwin as Barney was an inspired choice and has led to me renaming him Barney Baldwin).

The show is really well written and often has a strange way of telling the story. For example, flashbacks will have the narrator giving the exact age of the participants (i.e. - Ned is exactly 9 years, 5 months, 23 days, 8 hours, 12 minutes, and 4 seconds old). I am not sure why I find this so appealing but it is just an odd level of detail that adds a lot to the story for me. The writing isn't straightforward funny like a sitcom like The Office, but it does have a lot of much more subtle humor and the drama and characters are well written enough to be believable and endearing.

So what is this show all about? Ned is a pie maker. The show is about him and his co-workers and a private eye who helps them solve murders. What that doesn't make sense? No, not really...until you hear that the Ned (the pie maker) can bring the dead back to life by touching them. This is also how he makes pies, turning rotten fruit into the most lively and delicious fruit you have ever tasted. But like with Mogwai there are rules:

  1. Touch a dead thing once and it becomes alive

  2. Touch the thing brought back to life again and it is dead forever

  3. Bring something back to live for more than 60 seconds - something comparable must die in its place (bring a dog back to life, an animal about the size of a dog will in turn the victim is picked is unknown but it must be in close proximity)

The gist is that Ned along with a private eye, bring murder victims back to life to find out who killed them, thereby solving the murder and collecting rewards. Follow the rules and everything is great...but like in Gremlins rules are broken and everything gets complicated and that is where the fun starts.

Complications (just a few):

  • Ned has brought his first girlfriend Charlotte (aka Chuck) back to life after she was murdered.

  • Ned loves Chuck but can not touch her again...ever (he also hasn't been able to touch his dog in about 20 years).

  • Ned's co-worker Olive is secretly in love with Ned and therefore jealous of Chuck but doesn't understand their relationship since they never touch

  • Chuck's aunts, who raised her after her father's death (accidentally killed by Ned after he brought his mom back to life when he was 9 years old), think that Chuck is dead but love pie from the Pie Hole

  • Chuck's aunt is secretly her mom

It all makes for a good show (though it sounds horrible...but again it might take a little getting used to. It is one of my favorite shows of the past couple years and the only show I watch on ABC (Wednesdays 7pm Central). Unfortunately, it is strange enough that I think it has a hard time finding an audience and is probably in danger of being canceled (although I really hope not).

  • Reanimated corpses - Check

  • Aunt who wears an eye patch (which always matches her outfit) and used to perform as a synchronized swimming mermaid - Check

  • People who keep nothing but cheese in their refrigerator making their young niece think it is called "The Cheese Box" - Check

  • Private Eye who knits in order to relax - Check

  • Unrequited love - Check

  • Amusing deaths - Check

  • Always a twist - Check

  • A restaurant named The Pie Hole - Check

It can't really be explained without watching, which is why it is probably in trouble...but give it a try.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Two Minutes Hate Tuesday

Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl

Why does anyone like this song?
  • The music is generic pop/dance type music. Pretty indistinguishable from 100 other songs in the past couple years.
  • The lyrics pretty lame - really? "liked it" and "chapstick" do not rhyme...not even when you stretch out the i.
  • Vocals are too over processed - not as bad as Kanye, but bad enough that it drives me nuts.
  • The theme may have been slightly risqué when Jill Sobule did it 13 years ago (and did it better), but is now pretty tired and blasé.

Lipstick Lesbian, Lesbian Chic, etc... are not really edgy any more. I really didn't think it was that edgy 10+ years ago when it first started getting popular. I guess I don't see why people think this song is so subversive. I guess it might be edgy to some preteens or something but should not be to anyone who is an adult...well maybe a Mormon (not to slight Mormons but the ones I have met have led pretty sheltered lives - not necessarily a bad thing). It just makes me sad when music like this becomes popular and actual good music falls through the cracks.

Katy Perry - you may have kissed a girl but that doesn't make your music good.

End Hate