Tuesday, December 27, 2005

quick update

Xmas = cool. Manda got me an iPod. So, now I = happy.
Philly = cool. We're hanging out with my sister and family and enjoying ourselves.
Wawa = cool. It's the freakin' best.

Now we're heading out to see if after Xmas sales = cool. I'm going to look for games, books, and legos. maybe star wars figures too. Who knows.

Anyway, good times. Hope everyone out in wherever you are had a good christmahanukwanzika.

I'll post when I can and after I remember the important thing I felt like blogging about but have since forgotten.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

jotting it all down

Well, the article is done. Everything has been approved and apparently it's all a go. So, come March or so, I'll be a published author.

Cool stuff. Guess that's it. Not much to say, just the news of the article.

I think what makes me happiest of all about it is that I've really been working hard here at work to help integrate the QA department into our Audio work. The old way of doing things was to basically tackle all QA ourselves when it came to Sound implementation. But, I've been working to enlist the help of QA and it's been a big help to both departments.

So, I'm glad that I can write up an article all about what I've learned over the last year and a half refining those relationships. I hope people find it interesting to read about. Well, by people I mean "game audio nerds," of which I'm one.

Anyway, I'm babbling. So, now I'm done.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

holy freakin' freholies!

Just checked the weather for Philly this coming week and was very, VERY happy to see that they're forecasting a White Christmas.

Please allow me to take a moment and make this emoticon:

c(l': D

(That's a very excited me in a snow hat, by the way.)

Anyway, I'm thrilled. I can't remember the last time I saw snow, let alone saw snow on Christmas. I'm one happy camper. : )

'tis the season for slacking

I've slacked on blogging recently. There's been a bunch going on.

Christmas is almost completely done, in terms of shopping and gift arrival via the postal service. I just have a few last minute things to iron out, none of which I can mention because of certain someones who read this blog. But, everything's gone well so far and, for the most part, it's been a pretty disaster-free Xmas (knock on eWood).

Today I'm spending my day writing an article for Game Developer magazine. I need to get it written and finished by tomorrow so that our PR department can look it over before everyone goes on Holiday Break, seeing as how I have a January 2nd submission deadline for the article.

Other than that, Manda and I have been making arrangements for our holiday trip to Philly. I'm excited. The word is that my sister is going to pick us up from the airport. Big step for someone who's been driving for about a month.

There have been a bunch of things I've wanted to blog about, but never really did. I just want to go on record as saying that Randal from The Apprentice is a total dick. I was rooting for him up until the moment he won. If you don't know the story of what happened, read about it here. If you don't care, just know that a guy who seemed nice, sincere, and full of integrity seems to have been a selfish a-hole all along. Disappointing to see.

I dunno. I guess that's it for now. I need to buckle down and write this article so that it's done by tomorrow. Wish me luck.

By the way, is it just me? Or does it seem completely retahded that Blogger's spell check doesn't have "blog" in it?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

decking the halls of eCommerce

The Christmas present-buying continues. I can think of three things I've bought in the real world. Everything else has been purchased online. Still, I'm getting close to being finished now.

I even went so far as to make an Excel document to help me track expenditures and the status of various people's presents. The problem is, there's nothing that quite says "YOU'VE LOST ALL HUMAN WARMTH AND SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS" than figuring out the Conditional Formatting Rules for a Christmas list. Santa doesn't do it that way; I've seen the list. It's just a big hand-written scroll of parchment that reads:

et al.

Anyway, now I'm just waiting on packages to arrive in the mail and see if the shipping I've paid for pays off. Hopefully everything will arrive on time. We'll see. Maybe I'll go out and pick up some more Christmas stuff tonight. Then I can update my spreadsheet more. Festive!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the flannel steak in the heart of crap

I was having a conversation with a long-time friend of mine today and he made mention of dinosaurs.

For some reason, that made me think of the Was Not Was tune "Walk The Dinosaur." Why that song and a higher percentage of the lyrics than I'd like to admit were waiting on deck for me to think about them, I'll never know.

But, it got me thinking about all of the bands that used to drive me crazy that have vanished. I went through high school during the Grunge Era, but I wasn't into grunge. I was into pretencious art-rock crap like Rush, Yes, ELP, and ... Yes again. Anyway, to me grunge was an obnoxious genre that marked the death knell for vocal harmony and the guitar solo. 10 years on, I've come around and changed my view on grunge. I like it a lot now, or a fair bit of it anyway.

And one of the biggest reasons is that I realized Grunge was the thing that killed the lumbering hulk of the Early-90s Pop Monster. Was Not Was, C + C Music Factory, Fine Young Cannibals, Ace of Base, Go West - all of them died a horrible dead at the hands of Kurt Cobain. And I thank him for it frequently.

So, here's to you, Was Not Was, may you rest in peace. Congrats on being the only band that seems to have fallen through the 90s Nostalgia strainer into the great Cosmic Garbage Disposal in the sky.

"Boom boom. Ackalackalacka boom. Boom boom. Ackalacka boom boom."

Friday, December 09, 2005

happy birthday, ry

Yep. Today is Ry's birthday. He's a grand old 28. Thankfully for Ry, he's not spending his birthday today grounded like he did over so many birthdays in the past. How do I know? I can't seem to get a hold of him.

So, Ry, if you're reading this: happy birthday and give me a call. I can't seem to track you down today.

Anyways, that's it. Happy Birthday, Ry. You smell like a monkey and you look like one too.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

a legacy continues

Not too much going on with me these days other than Dragon Quest VIII. The latest edition of a game that first started out on the NES is pretty fine. I'm really enjoying it.

There isn't enough music in and what music they do have is implemented pretty poorly, but I guess it's one of those things you become more and more aware of the more your into it yourself.

Anyway, the game's great though and I'm really enjoying it. If anyone is looking for a good turn-based RPG, give it a go. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Some time really soon I'm going to have to take care of my Christmas shopping. Time is really shrinking rapidly and I'd say only about a third of my presents have been bought. I should really get on that.

Monday, December 05, 2005

yakity yak

Had a good time this weekend. Like I mentioned last week, I ended up heading into The City with Amanda to do some speaking on a handful of roundtable discussions at Gamespot's G.A.M.E. convention.

It was fun; they're good guys. Met a lot of nice people and got some hands-on time playing the new Zelda game. For anyone interested, it may look drastically different, but it still plays exactly like The Wind Waker. Take that for what it is.

Amanda was kind enough to snap a picture of me while I was up on stage:


Then she was kind enough to take another picture of me when we went to Staples of me as a snowman:


So, good stuff. It was a fun weekend.

Friday, December 02, 2005


I've been a Howard Stern fan for years. As a Stern listener, you hear all kinds of bizarre people come on and promote themselves. Sometimes they're happy with being on Stern's show. Sometimes they're not. When they're not, it makes you wonder why they're there at all. The Queen of this weird conundrum is Underdog Lady.

If you're not familiar with her, Underdog Lady is a woman who dresses up like the cartoon character Underdog and then makes appearances at parades and things around the Northeast of the US.

Now, I've heard her on Stern a bunch and she's pretty wacko when she's on. The story seems to go that years ago they invited her on, she did her normal routine, they laughed, and she got indignant. That's where the trouble started. Once she was offended by the fact that they found her funny instead of treating her with reverence, Pandora's Box was open. Stern's fans started to show up at her events and torment her.

So, anyway, she became kinda' legendary for going onto Stern's show after that in an attempt to not get any more publicity from him. It's not really an approach I understand, and for Underdog Lady it became a regular thing. The problem is, every time she came on to say "Leave me alone" more people heard her. I definitely hadn't heard her the first few many times she was on. It was only many years into her campaign to be ignored that I heard her for the first time. So, clearly she doesn't seem to understand that she was working against her own muddled goals.

Anyway, someone is making a documentary about Underdog Lady. If you want to see a really crazy trailer, head on over to Art of Madness and check it out (click the Trailer link in the upper right corner). There's something about the film that reminds me of another documentary that I watched a few years ago called "Jupiter's Wife".

Unfortunately for Underdog Lady, that's not necessarily a compliment.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

spreading the word

This was a nice surprise. I've been invited to speak at G.A.M.E., the Game and Music Experience being hosted by Gamespot this weekend at the Moscone Center. They're having a couple of roundtable discussions and I've been invited to talk on the Breaking Into The Industry (Sat, 12:10 and Sun, 1:00) and Games and Music (Sat, 3:15) discussions.

Should be a good time. I just hope I have something interesting/helpful to say.

Perhaps it's naive to say, but I feel it's so much easier to break into the industry if you're looking to do anything other than Sound. That's not to say that doing Sound for games is impossible; it's not. It's just that there's a glut of people applying for a very small number of positions.

Plus, these days there are academic programs being taught at the collegiate level for programming, game art, and level design. There is, however, no collegiate degree program in Game Audio. You might get a single class, if you're lucky. And you've really gotta' search to find them.

Anyway, I'm going to go talk on Saturday and hopefully I won't sound stupid or crush someone's dream.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

freakin' eWatched-Pot

I'm waiting on no less than 6 very important emails right now. These are responses to things that I've sent out over the last few days. Things that are relatively important, some of which are pretty urgent.

I hate waiting on email responses. It drives me nuts. I've never been very good at just chilling out and letting responses come in time. I'm the kind of guy who used to hit "Refresh" every 15 seconds, until Gmail added in its auto-refresh niceitude.


I don't want to be that guy who pesters people with "Hey did you see my other email?" emails. So, I'm just sitting here babysitting my inbox. It's about as exciting as C-SPAN.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

giving thanks

Yeah, so I'm about 5 days late with this, but I woke up this morning feeling like I should list all of the things I'm thankful for this year.

So, here goes:

- I'm thankful for my girlfriend who is undoubtedly the most wonderful person I've ever met in my life.
- I'm thankful that, in a year full of so many horrible tragedies worldwide, everyone I care about is still healthy, happy, and well.
- I'm thankful for the ever growing sense of security and roots I have in my life, and that the unstable tumult of my early twenties fades with each passing year.
- I'm thankful for the decline in stress and increase in Peacefulness this year has seen for me.
- I'm thankful for our cat.
- I'm thankful my car is still hanging in there even after 153,000 miles.
- I'm thankful for the 22nd Amendment.
- I'm thankful for my job, the experience I've gained, and the creative possibilities available to me over the last year.
- I'm thankful that my kid sister is growing up healthy and well.
- I'm thankful to have found a way such as Blogger to keep in touch more frequently with people I don't get a chance to see as often as I'd like.
- I'm thankful I went back and beat Metal Gear: Snake Eater. It was a really great game and I'm glad I didn't just give up on it.
- I'm thankful that Techno Squirrels' career is going well.
- I'm thankful for the memories of our Hawaiian vacation.
- I'm thankful for The Cheesesteak Shop.
- And I'm thankful that I get another chance at another year to make the next one just a bit better than the one before, which is all anyone can really ever ask for.

So, guess that's everything this year.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

'tis the season

Amanda and I started our Christmas shopping today. Besides just kinda' getting the lay of the land and figuring out some budgeting, we also started to try and track down a few items.

Now, I'm not going to say who it was we were looking for or what item it was, but we did find something in our online travels that was pretty amazing.

I present to you The Fine Art Martini Frog:

For those who don't feel like following the link to find out more about it, this is a four foot tall, hand-painted bronze frog holding a martini glass. If you asked me, I would have put the price tag at something like $50.

Oh, how little I know about art, apparently.

This stunning beauty of a piece of crap is going for (drum roll please) $11,900.00! Twelve freakin' thousand dollars!! And that's apparently on sale from its original $16,000 dollars.

Good gravy. I think the thing that amazed me most of all was the ability to add it to your shopping cart with a Quantity tab. As if anyone on earth would need more than one of these if they had a spare $25,000 lying around. To quote Andrew Dick, "ri-doik-u-loise."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

it's not the rush of remembering

My brain feels like mush. I'm pushing myself really hard to complete this massive Word document by tomorrow and I'm starting to really just feel ... stupid.

I'm not sure why the simple act of thinking can be so incredibly fatiguing when you do it intently for so many hours on end.

I feel dumb even writing this, as though I'm saying:

"me head hurt. me not like thinkin'. thoughts hurt jesses brain lump."

But it's more than that. It's not like I have some problem with the act of thinking and would prefer to coast through life easily. I'm talking about the fagitue of many longs hours spent trying to organize and write all of the details needed for a 30 page technical document. It's tough.

Anyway, I'm getting there and will get this thing done; but man o' man, I'm really starting to feel it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

shove it, Frampton.

I've been listening to a lot of music here at work while I work on some massive Word documents these past couple of weeks. As such, I've been running my iTunes playlist into the ground of late. This morning, I couldn't stomach the thought of hearing the same songs over and over and over again for another week (albeit, a short week).

So, today I dragged in a good 20 or so additional CDs and ripped them all into iTunes. First of all, iTunes r0><0rz. So, way to go Apple. But, second of all, I ripped one album in particular that I've been LOVING today.

The winner? Peter Gabriel's "Secret World Live" which could possibly be the greatest live album I've ever heard. Gabriel's a genius and he has an incredible talent for finding just the right guest artists to play live with him.

On Secret World Live, Gabriel snags Paula Cole before she became famous and then dropped off the face of the Earth again. Their two voices, backed by a killer rhythm section, make for a very enjoyable double album. And yeah, it's so freakin good that I love the inclusion of two discs.

Anyway, if you haven't ever heard it, check it out; you won't be disappointed. If you've heard it but not recently, listen to it again. And, I dunno, if you're listening to it right now, then you get a gold star.

Friday, November 18, 2005

not much going on

Not to much to blab about. I was out sick yesterday but still ended up working most of the day on some documentation work at home. This weekend Manda and I are gonna' go see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Maybe play some more Beyond Good & Evil. Who knows.

Anyway ... uh ... whoooooo!! Wild times!!

Or something.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

not very "ah ... niiiice"

Apparently, according to CNN, the country of Kazakhstan is threatening to sue comedian Sacha Cohen (better known as Ali G) over the derogatory image he portrays as the character of Borat.

1.) That's nuts.

and 2.) That's nuts.

On the plus side, it's fun to see the words "cow-punching" on CNN.com.

Look out, Mike Myers. Germany may not know about Dieter yet.

Monday, November 14, 2005

the Tide™ of change (now with Stainlifter)

There is one last great melting pot in the United States. Say what you want about socio-economic strata or the tendency for ethnic and religious groups to gravitate towards themselves geographically. All of that aside, there is still one great unifying aspect of our society that can bring all ages, races, and religions together:


Want to see diverse American society working together closely in harmony? Go to any Laundromat. Amanda and I went to one this Sunday with a huge load of clothes, pretty much everything we owned to be honest. While we were there, I kept staring around the place at the other people.

And it struck me, there's a lesson here somewhere. People of all ages, races, and creeds - who so frequently can't agree on politics to the point of violence - can apparently wash their underwear together in public without any problems at all.

The only people not represented? The Rich. I swear, if there were ever to be a French Revolution-style revolt against America's wealthy, the organizers should plan, meet, and recruit from Laundromats. They would never be found out - ever. And the Privileged would have no idea until the scent of Revolution and Mountainy Freshness™ was in the air.

But, by then it would be too late.

So, you know, my advice to the Rich is this: keep your windows open and don't trust the Snuggle bear.


Friday, November 11, 2005

date night

I'm really looking forward to tonight. See, tonight Amanda and I are heading out on the town to a night of dinner and a movie. The dinner: North Beach Pizza. The movie: Chicken Little (for lack of anything else).

And I have to say, I guess there's an odd little part of me that's kinda' surprised that we're going out on a date tonight. Not that there's anything wrong with our relationship that would prevent us from going on a date. Entirely the opposite. Here we are 5 and a half years into our relationship and things are stronger and better than ever. And I guess on one level it's that success that surprises me.

See, I think my surprise comes from not really having any sort of relationship role models to from which to judge a successful relationship. My parents divorced after 24 years together. But, they fought like crazy for about 20 of those years.

Then again, I also found out lately that they got married after only knowing each other for 5 weeks. Ridiculous. The fact that they stuck together for 24 years is insane, in light of that fact.

Still, from what I knew growing up, a long term relationship wasn't one full of romance (or even kindness, for that matter). But, here Amanda and I are five plus years into this wonderful relationship and it just keeps getting better. Our trust strengthens each year. Our understanding of each other strengthens each year. It's just ... nice. Peaceful. Secure.

And as much as I hate to say it, none of those are really adjectives that I ever really associated with long term relationships before. To me, people growing happily old together was a Hollywood creation based on a myth left over from the 1950s. Sure, it's what I always wanted. Did I really know if I'd find it at all? No. Was I cynical? Yes.

But here it is and I treasure it. I find that the older I get and the longer I'm lucky enough to be with Amanda, the more life surprises me with how generally nice it can be. The TV myths of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness don't seem like myths anymore, but doofy reflections of what I now know can actually exist.

And I'm glad to know it.

So, here's hoping everyone out there can have a nice weekend with someone special. Hug somebody. Or if you can't do that, call somebody. It's a good weekend for it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

speaking of calls ...

This is why people don't like automated phone systems. Sometimes they do things like this:

My cellphone bites. It broke a while ago in a couple of different ways (through no fault of my own, mind you) and I've put off getting it fixed after hearing about some Cingular Repair Service horror stories from my brother. Well, while procrastinating, my phone continues to be a big pain in the ass for both Amanda and I.

So, I finally decided to try and get it fixed. First, I looked up all of the info online and tried to do their automated online repair service. After the website refused to recognize my phone's serial number, it told me to call the automated line.

So, I called, I hit "1" for English, and then I wait through a LONG speech about how I should call the same number I just called if I'm calling from my broken phone. Eventually, I was asked to enter my Wireless Phone number. No prob. Seems like a okay system so far. I enter my number and it tells me that it's directing me to an agent.

The thing is, it doesn't. It directs me to a new "Welcome to Cingular's Blah Blah Blah System" part of the phone tree. I then have to sit through the same "If you're a moron and calling from your broken phone" message that I heard the first time. After that, we get down to business:

If you're calling because of something or other, press 1 (I can't remember).
If you're calling because your phone has been exposed to liquid or some other sort of physical damage to your wireless handheld phone, press 2.
For all other questions regarding inoperative wireless handheld phones, please press three.

Now ... I'm thinking "This kinda' sucks, but at least it seems to be taking some pertinent information from me and we seem to be getting somewhere." So, I hit "3."

It then asks me to enter my phone number again. Now I'm starting to get pissed. This is just wasting my time and I've already done this.

But, whatever. It's a roadblock. So, I enter the number (again) and wait.

And wait.

And am finally told that I'm being transferred to the first available agent (again). Once more, I'm waiting.

Then, out of nowhere, I get a rapid busy signal and the thing hangs up on me.

Awful, terrible system. It wasted my time, it got me angry, and it didn't get me any closer to fixing my phone problem. Worst of all, I know that I have to call back and go through it again just to try and have the phone fixed still.


just got the call

My sister just called to say "I just passed my Permit Test!!" : )

So, except for not being able to find her Social Security card and needing to get a replacement, my sister is now able to drive.

I can't wait until Christmas when she can chauffeur Manda and I around Philly. Mwahahahaha...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the well-oiled machine

Last night, I joined Amanda down in Santa Clara where she was managing a vote collecting station for the Registrar of Voters (RoV). (For those not in CA, we had a special election yesterday.)

I really enjoyed myself and was thoroughly impressed with a number of things.

First of all, Amanda's a great leader. She was the manager of the entire operation last night. Her crew was largely hand-picked by her from people she knows from work, home, etc. and - as far as I understand it - her crew was also largely brand new to working for the RoV. Regardless of having 15 or so completely inexperienced people milling frantically around with a County's votes, everything went smoothly. There weren't any problems - big or little - and everyone seemed to always know what it was they were supposed to do. Manda handled it all quickly, efficiently, and professionally. I'm very proud of her. It's rare that I get to see her in any kind of a work situation. I'm really glad I had that opportunity last night.

Secondly, I was really impressed with how organized the entire Registrar of Voters machine is. I've never given the process of voting much thought before: mark the sheet, put it in the privacy sleeve, slide it into the box. That was the end of my involvement and the end of my apparent interest in what happens to my vote. As far as I knew, the box itself counted all of the votes.

Anyway, it was cool to see more of the process. Confidential bags of votes come in, things get sorted into different piles, all of the precincts are tracked on a big white board, lots of people are working in well-organized collaboration to get everything sorted into the right areas before the votes are then trucked off again to a larger sorting location. All along the way, there are people with specific jobs handling very small, very specific tasks. And yet, it's in combination that all of these little tasks get everyone's votes delivered into the right hands.

The last few elections have gone a long way towards doing their best to disenfranchise me and make me loose all faith in the democratic process. Last night reversed that a great deal. Or, I guess you could say, franchised me?

Anyway, it was a good night. Rooni, thanks for asking me to be involved.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

maybe those Subway schmoes really are artists

Coming from Philadelphia as I do, I feel I know something about what makes a good sandwich and what doesn't. It's probably crossed the line long ago into some kind of sandwich-snobbery; but it's who am I and I can't fight it.

Over the last two weeks or so, I've been packing my lunches for work and it's common for people to ask me what I'm eating. So far, it's been mostly peanut butter. I either have peanut butter and banana (note: not fried a la The King) or peanut butter and grape jelly.

Unfortunately, this lead today to a discussion of some of the nastiest sandwiches I've ever heard of that other people seem to enjoy. Sure, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff isn't my thing, but it isn't ridiculous. Nor is peanut butter and Nutella. But ...

- peanut butter and lettuce?
- peanut butter and dill pickles?
- peanut butter and salami?
- peanut butter and Miracle Whip?
- peanut butter and tuna?
- peanut butter and Cheese Whiz?
- pepperoni and jelly? (Ben, you're gross.)

Those are all an affront to the very Sandwich name.

Monday, November 07, 2005

tell it on the mountain.com

This morning, Ry sent me a link to a Church Sign Generator. Funny stuff. You can basically just type in whatever you want and it'll toss it up on a virtual church sign for all in your little suburban town to see.

After playing around with it for a little while, here are the best I could come up with:



And my favorite so far:

Good stuff.

Friday, November 04, 2005

visiting an old friend

Today I had the opportunity to stop by and visit with a friend I haven't seen in a few years. Her name is Claire Clay and she was murdered just over two years ago. I feel terrible that I haven't been able to visit her grave before now; but at least I finally was able to pay my respects.

Claire was horribly murdered at the age of 25. It's just so incredibly tragic. I don't know of many other people I've met in my life who were even a tenth as vibrant and full of life as Claire. She touched a lot of people's lives and was a teacher at the time of her death. It just makes me angry that she was taken from those kids. Everyone who met Claire was better off for it.

Take, for instance, my mom. My mom has had a dream for years of opening up a Performing Arts venue where local people can perform and showcase their talents in the suburban Philly area. It's a wonderfully generous dream and so in keeping with her giving nature that it's no wonder we call her "Mother to the World."

About ten years ago, Claire organized a performing arts cafe in our high school that would perform on Friday nights and gave all of the school's underground and underexposed talent a showcase to have a voice of their own. I can't express to you how much this meant to my mom. She'd always liked Claire, but here was this sign to her that she was doing the right thing. Claire was a huge source of inspiration to my mom. Even as I write this entry, Claire's framed picture hangs on my mom's wall in her office as a memorial and a reminder of her incredibly inspirational spirit.

Now, one thing my mom has been doing recently is organizing trips for Western dancers to travel to Poland for an international Dance festival. It's been progressing over the last two years and the ball is really starting to roll. Now, over the last two years, she has been trying to organize a University affiliation with a particular woman at a particular university here in Pennsylvania. She's been contacting her off and on for two years without much success.

Today, my mom and I visited Claire's grave. When we walked up, we both said our hellos and then my mom kissed her fingers and touched them to a picture of Claire that sits beside the grave. No sooner does she do this than her phone rings.

It was the woman she had been calling for two years with the news that it looks like my mom will get her university affiliation and a huge influx of students interested in the trip to Poland.

I'm not a religious guy. But ... I don't know. I would love to believe that Claire was looking out for my mom at that moment. My mom thanked Claire profusely after that and cried on my shoulder, telling me how happy she was that Claire was still helping her with her dreams. I got pretty choked up too at that moment.

When my mom wasn't looking, I turned around, thanked Claire and then - with a wink - flicked a booger onto the grave of the person across from her.

I think Claire would have liked me messing with her neighbors.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

wagons east

Tomorrow I'm off to Philly for a few days to celebrate my sister's birthday with her. She turns 16 and we're gonna try and teach her how to drive. : )

Or, you know, start to teach her how to drive. So long as I'm not the one in charge of teaching her how to renew her registration, she should be fine.

I'll blog if I get a chance. If not, I'll be back on Monday.

Have a good week, everyone.

By the way, is it just me? Or does it not make any sense that "blog" isn't in Blogger's spellcheck?

Monday, October 31, 2005

an open letter to civic planners

Dear Civil Engineers,

What in the Sweet Holy Eff is wrong with you? Is there something in your All-Purpose Civic Rulebook that states:

Rule 9.) Any government building housing Traffic Court must be one of the hardest buildings in the city at which to find parking.



- Jesse Harlin

Serieusement. I got my traffic ticket taken care of; but it was annoying to try and find parking. As was the case when I had to go to the Hall of Justice in LA. As was the case in New Jersey. As was the case in Philly.

By the way, classiest part of my trip to traffic ticketland? The people standing in line behind me who were looking through mugshot books for people they knew.

And finding them.

Classy, kids. Classy.

Friday, October 28, 2005

some things are universal

No matter what religion you are, no matter what Higher Power you're speaking to for a big ol' cosmic free pass, the two inescapable truths seem to be Death and the DMV.

I spent an hour at the DMV today waiting to change my address and renew my registration. While there, I saw these three gents.


The pic might be hard to see in its small form. Click on it for the larger version.

You're looking at three Buddhist monks sitting in line at the DMV so as to renew the registration on the MonkMobile or something.

It's moments like that that I have a camera phone for.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

canned evil

I went to get myself a soda out of my Diet Cherry Pepsi Fridge Pack today, and instead I pulled out this:


Yes, I realize you're thinking "Wow. You went to get a soda and pulled out ... a soda? Way to go, genius." But, what the picture doesn't show is that:

1. The can is severely dented.
2. The top is completely sealed. And
3. The can is completely empty.

Not a drop of soda in it. I was kinda' baffled and showed it to my friend Harrison. He decided that it must contain some kind of curse, as though I'd stumbled onto Pandora's Pepsi Can.

I have to say, I understand Pandora's dilemma. I'm dying to open this thing ever since he told me it might contain something evil.

Maybe there's a genie in it? I guess I'll never know. If I open it up, it just becomes a dented can. With it closed, it's a mystery.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

i rool skool

From now on, you can call me Sensai 'cause I'm Master of the Bejeweled Dojo.

I know I was talking a bit before about the timesuck that is Bejeweled and how I had been in "The Zone" earlier. Eff The Zone. The Zone is nothing compared to the Zen-like state of oneness I achieved with Bejeweled last night.

I was getting ready to leave work, was waiting for everything to shut down, etc., when I fired up Bejeweled to kill some time. What I didn't know was that I had just begun a 2-hour game of Bejeweled that would shatter my 18,750 high score.

Two hours of sitting in my office so long with only my thumb moving that the motion sensitive lights kept turning off on me ... Two hours of getting up and heading down to my car with the game paused, then trying to pick it up again to convince myself that my office didn't have special powers that would allow me to reach such great heights of Bejeweled. Two hours where I realized I could run down the battery and perhaps kill the game without having it ever record my high score.

Two hours with one game of Bejeweled when I should have just driven home and hung out with Amanda. My high score is now 89,520. One day, The Sensai will break the 100,000 point barrier.

But, you know, maybe when I have 3 hours to spare.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I don't know what causes it. Maybe it was due to the half moon last night? Who knows. What I do know is that last night - on my way home from work - everyone around me was driving like assholes. It was odd. Everywhere I went on my way home, people were driving dangerously: cutting each other off on the freeway, merging at breakneck speeds into stopped traffic, etc..

Here were my two favorites.

"Scene 1 - In Which Asshole Alpha Takes The Long Route"

So, I pull up to a stop sign outside our office (see figure 1).

Figure 1.

As there's a car coming up the other way - without a stop sign - I wait like a good little driver before I can make a left turn (I'm the green car). Well, Asshole A decides to slow down and approach the intersection by wiggling their car slowly back and forth a bit. After coming to a stop half turned in the middle of the intersection, I decide to go. Once I'm gone, they then wiggle their way past me straight down the rest of the road they were on. (see figure 2).

Figure 2.

"Scene 2 - In Which Asshole Beta Does Some Rethinking"

Later, while driving through some of the backroads of the Presidio, I find myself driving down a little two lane road. Coming the opposite way is some car with his high beams on. That makes them an asshole to begin with.

However, I notice that I'm somehow not getting any closer to them. Disorienting as it is, I eventually figure out that they're reversing up the street at about 30 miles per hour. The end result is that I'm not passing them and their high beams continue to blind me. Eventually, they do a three point turn in the middle of some intersection and go about their merry way.

I mean, honestly ... one of those weirdos driving on the road in a night would have been enough. But both of them within 5 minutes of each other? And then everyone else being weird on the freeway? I just don't get it.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

oh, how the mighty have fallen

Manda and I went out Friday night to the movies and saw Chicken Little, Disney's newest animated film and the first in their attempt to make a CG film comparable with Pixar.

If I were Pixar and saw this film, I'd probably send Disney a letter afterwards that read:

from: weRule@pixar.com
to: theChumps@disney.com
subject: holy eff, man...

Dear Disney,

We here at Pixar knew you guys were fucked when we said we weren't going to renew our contract with you. But, man o'man ... we had no ideajust how fucked you guys really were! Thanks so much for making the "Disney Is So Undeniably Mega-Fucked Demo Reel" known as Chicken Little as a means of clarifying. We appreciate it.

Drinking champagne and dancing in the streets,
- Pixar

Seriously, this film was ass. Once the greatest animation company in the world and an innovator in every sense of the word, Disney has fallen to the ranks of 9-th rate imitators. They try to do a little bit of what everyone else who has made a CG film in the past 5 years has done, but without really achieving any one element. The end result is a hodge-podge of unfocused slop.

Honestly, watching the film is like watching a series of board room meetings. Five minutes into the film you can see the meeting where someone said "We must use licensed pop music frequently, just like Shrek." Ten minutes in you see the "Pixar is all about heart-warming Parent/Child conflict stories" meeting. After about an hour, there's the "You know what was great? The old Warner Brothers approach of making jokes that only the adults in the audience will get, while still making it entertaining for the kids" meeting.

The problem though is that - like anything else - if all you're trying to do is emulate other people's work and creative energy, you can't possibly recreate it sincerely. And that's where the whole movie falls apart. The sad thing is that all of those other animation companies were inspired by the work Disney did successfully for 70 years. Now the innovator is trying to play catch-up in a world that passed them by years ago.

Chicken Little isn't the answer. The script sucks, the licensed music soundtrack sucks, the basic execution of the whole thing sucks. Somebody over at Disney better stop analyzing A Shark's Tale and start innovating again. Until then, Disney is just going to continue crapping on their legendary name.

fill in the blank

Driving home last night from work, I found myself behind a car with a bumper sticker that read "BUSH KNEW." It hit me at that point how sad it is that I had no idea what the bumper sticker was trying to say. Which of the many things was it trying to tell me Bush knew?

- Bush knew in advance about the 911 attacks?
- Bush knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?
- Bush knew that Iraq had nothing to do with 911?
- Bush knew he was lying when he made his case for war?
- Bush knew in advance about the Valerie Plame outing?
- Bush knew about plans to oust Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez?
- Bush knew the war wasn't over when he declared "Mission Accomplished?
- Bush knew that you can't successfully win a war against a noun like terrorism, drugs, or poverty?
- Bush knew well in advance about the severity of Hurricane Katrina?
- Bush knew Michael Brown didn't have the qualifications to head FEMA?
- Bush knew oil company revenues would sky rocket during his administration?

There's probably more I'm forgetting. Point being, it's sad. The words "BUSH KNEW" are trying to be so powerful and poignant. Problem is, there are so many things that it could refer to that it almost loses all of its meaning.

Feel free to add any more you think I'm forgetting.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

if you want to be happy for the rest of your life ...

Manda and I have found a wonderful new hobby that we enjoy spending together. No, it's not one of the typical couples hobbies (antiquing, wine-tastings, being old). No, instead we've discovered the joys of blowing up cars.

Lest anyone think that Demo discs don't work for video game sales, here's a nice little story. Manda and I buy some Official Playstation Magazine Demo Disc so that we can check out Sly Cooper 3 and Rachet: Deadlocked. Sly Cooper = more of the same. Rachet = a radical change to something oddly more akin to Republic Commando than any of the other Rachet and Clank games. Regardless, we were luke warm on both of them.

Now, Amanda decides to select the demo for Burnout: Revenge. Personally, I couldn't have cared less (note to idiots: the phrase is "I couldN'T have cared less" as in "I care so little, there isn't any less that I could care about the issue at hand." Not "I could care less" which means "I care to some degree." and goes against the snarky point you're trying to make). I don't like racing games. Never really have. Something about trying to just get a car around a track as fast as you can without crashing seems to put it somewhere between chess and fly fishing in terms of excitement for me.

But not Burnout, baby. I didn't realize that the entire point of Burnout is to smash cars up as much as possible. Knock your rivals into walls. Fly off of jumps and land on traffic. Drive an SUV into oncoming traffic with the only goal being to create the greatest amount of monetary damage possible.

This game rules. The physics are rad. Taking out rival cars with a well-placed shunt into a wall results in a slo-mo cut away shot of them smashing in a ball of fiery vehicular wreckage. Hoo nanny; it's fun.

I guess the moral of the story is, "The couple that smashes the shit out of rival sports cars together, stays together."

That's my relationship advice for the day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

people to watch out for

Bits and pieces of things today. Here's a list of things that you might want to watch out for:

- Southwest Airlines is policing our t-shirts now.
- Anti-video game lawyer Jack Thompson has lost his mind and is now designing games himself.
- The nation's grandmothers are organizing against the Army.
- China's cheap labor costs are causing some seriously nasty requests from US companies to their workers.

And on top of all of this, another Category 5 hurricane is hurtling towards Florida.

Bad times.

Monday, October 17, 2005

totally illogical

I bought a $20 upgrade for LogicAudio Pro 7. I did it to stay up-to-date with the current versions.

You know what though?

This thing is trash. Total trash. Apple totally fucked up Logic in this version and it's pissing me off.

Oi, Apple, stop messing with Logic and fix what you broke, jerks.

I mean it. This sucks.

Friday, October 14, 2005

handing out awards today

My neighbor officially wins the 2005 Worst Freakin' Car Alarm Award.


(Kudos to Ry for the Photoshop update on the trophy.)

Anyway, congrats, Jerk. So what set you over the top? Well, for one thing, it's the fact that your car alarm was the loudest I've ever heard. I mean, it's like they actually think some one two states over will hear it and think "Holy Crap! Those poor folks in California! Someone's stealing their car! I'd better get over there fast!"

Add on top of that the actual tone of the alarm. Now, most alarms are just a monophonic "HONK! HONK!" or "WHOOP! WHOOP!" Whatever. This jerk's car is breaking new ground with a polyphonic alarm. Two pitches playing together in harmony alerting the world that someone nearby slammed a door too hard.

Now, harmony is new for car alarms. What are you going to do with a polyphonic car alarm? What interval do you use? Good question. Whoever invented this car alarm, however, apparently decided to go with one of the most obnoxious intervals of all time: The Tritone!

For those who don't know, the tritone - or diminished 5th (or augmented 4th) - is a very dissonant interval. It tends to grate on the nerves and was even known in the Middle Ages as "the devil's interval" because they hated the sound of it so much.

So, with a volume firmly set at 11 and the siren's call of "TRITOOONE!!! TRITOOOONE!!! TRITOOOOONE!!!", you - Neighbor Jerk - are this year's winner of the Worst Freakin' Car Alarm Award.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

trimming the fat

I've been listening to The Beatles white album a lot today. I found it tucked into someone's iTunes list on our network.

I gotta' say, it's always been one of my least favorite Beatles albums. It's just always felt to me like it was all over the place and extremely disjointed. But, not in a good way like a Beck album. More in a bad way like ... well, like the white album.

Anyway, I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but today I decided to just start unchecking the tracks I don't like. Lo and behold, I was left with an incredibly solid single album's worth of Beatley goodness. It's got some really great song writing, really great production work, etc.

One of my favorite moments? Track one, Back In The USSR. There's just something so "eff you, Brian Wilson" about it. As if Paul felt the need to say "Brian, mate, you're trying so hard to do what we do; but look how easy it is for us to do what you do." Snarky.

Only downside? Though she's never bothered me before (with the exception of some stuff on "Double Fantasy" [Kiss Kiss Kiss anyone?]), Yoko's voice is really starting to grate on my nerves.

Anyway, in case anyone's interested, here's my proposed track list for the white album:
Back In The USSR
Dear Prudence
Wild Honey Pie
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
Happiness is a Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
I'm So Tired
Rocky Raccoon
I Will
Mother Nature's Son
Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter
Revolution 1
Good Night

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

another round, ner vod

Just finished a little interesting task. I got an email from Ryan Kaufman, game designer/author/and Mandalorian Language Beta Tester. Turns out that he'd written the first Mandalorian folktune out of all of the work Karen Traviss has been doing on creating the Mandalorian Language for a number of her upcoming Star Wars books.

Ryan emailed me and asked if I could plunk out the tune on the piano and send it to Karen so that she could hear it. "Not a problem," says I. Thing is, once I started, it was too hard to just leave it at just the melody; so I figured out the accompaniment for it, too.

It was nice to get to return to the good old mando'a days of Republic Commando, if only briefly and peripherally at best.

Still, it was nice. Ryan wrote a nice folk tune and it was fun to hammer out the harmonization.

If anything, it convinced me that I haven't lost all of my musical knowledge over the span of the past 12 months of spreadsheets and Williams editing. So, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

not nearly as entertaining as "A Bug's Life"

We have ants in our apartment. As far as I can tell, they are entering our apartment through a hold in the wall behind our behemoth of an entertainment center, marching their way around the living room rug, and then disappearing into some sort of worm hole near the sofa. Try as I may, I can't seem to follow them to any sort of destination. They march halfway around the rug and then ... turn around and go back the other way.

So, now I need to go buy ant poison. Fun.

I didn't sleep well last night. I had two stupid ideas, both of which worked beautifully in concert to give me a restless night's sleep.

Idiotic Idea 1.) Leave the door open to our room to create a cross-breeze.

I've been really hot at night ever since ... well, ever. I'm just hot at night always - at least, when I try to fall asleep I'm hot. So, I leave the window open and turn on a fan and then by about 3 in the morning I'm cold. But initially, I'm really hot. Some mornings I wake up to find that my t-shirt is soaked with sweat (TMI, I know). Anyway, I thought that leaving the door open would allow for a nicer cross-breeze and I would be able to fall asleep easier.

Didn't work.

Idiotic Idea 2.) Let the cat sleep at the foot of our bed.

I thought, "Well, if I want to let the door stay open, then maybe the cat will come in and snooze on the foot of our bed like she did all day Sunday." I don't know why I wanted this. Maybe just due to the inherent Normal Rockwellness of it all. Regardless, our cat sleeps during the day, not the night - and I should have thought about this.

At 5:30 in the morning, she climbed up onto my chest and wanted to play. When I was tired and grumpy at being woken up, she climbed off of me and started to mess with Amanda. Luckily, I was able to get the cat out of the room before Manda woke up.

The moral or the story is: Jesse doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to sleep.

Monday, October 10, 2005

back in the saddle again

Vacation is over. The housewarming party is over. All were good. We got a lot of nice compliments on our apartment and on our decor which felt nice since I'd been cleaning, painting, and whatever all week long.

Some odds and ends:

1. It came to my attention this weekend that not everyone knows the word "spum" yet. Fair enough, since I invented it only a few years ago. I guess it takes longer than that for a word to work its way into the culture at large. None the less, for those who don't know, here's the def:

spum ('spuhm) n. Unwanted food or waste - typically liquid or gelatinous in form - that clings to one's clothing without their notice, putting itself at greater risk of spreading to other clothes/people/tablecloths/etc.

I just ruined my favorite pants because I didn't notice that there was some spum on my shirt sleeve.

There you go.

2. Eyezmaze has some great little time sucking games on it. My favs happen to be the GROW series. Originally, there was simply Grow. Well, I'm happy to say that there are now three different versions of Grow: Grow, Grow Cube, and Grow RPG. Good stuff; they're all very fulfilling to beat.

3. The Blogger spell check is retahded. I spell-checked my post here to find that I had typoed the word "originally" as "origially." Doesn't look all that tough to me ... but to Blogger, it was suggesting "Wriggling," "Heroically," or "Wrigley." Lame.

'Kay. Time to listen to "Rocky Raccoon" while I dig through a week's worth of piled up eMail.

Friday, October 07, 2005


house warming party tomorrow. cleaning today. no time for capitalization or full sentences.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

emergency planning 101

I don't know why, but I've had a very Zombie-filled vacation so far. While doing various art projects, cleaning projects, and art cleaning projects, I've occasionally been turning on HBO or On Demand for some background noise.

And I've ended up watching three different Zombie movies this week: Night of the Livin Dead, Resident Evil 2, and Shaun of the Dead.

Here's what I've learned:

1.) In case of a Zombie infestation, get in your car and head for the highway. Zombies are slow and don't drive. If you make it to the highway, you're totally safe.

2.) Head to Hove Mobile Park, ND. What is this place? It's a tiny little town in North Dakota that has an official population of 2, according to the US Census. That means there's a lot less people to have to keep a watch on.

3.) Invent and/or bring along a sniper rifle that shoots flaming bullets. Aparently, guns and fire are your best friend in case of Zombie attack.

4.) Aim for the head. I don't know why this is, but it just seems to be so. For some reason everything in a Zombie can continue to function when reduced to dead tissue. Something freaky and ugly will reanimate them and they'll just keep on keepin' on no matter what you do to them - unless you obliterate their brain.

"But Jesse," I hear you ask, "Isn't the brain just as much dead tissue as the rest of the Zombie? Doesn't that seem to not make any sense?" Believe me when I say "true dat." That said, if Zombies do start to attack my little Hove Mobile Park safe haven, I'm not really going to try and have a philosophical debate with them.

Anyway, that's the plan. Highway, North Dakota, Flaming Sniper Rifle. Clearly my vacation is being used to really figure out some heavy-duty stuff that benefits all of Mankind.

I'll let all ya'll know when I figure out the plan for Vampire Mummies.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

the continuing saga of bungled-up bench

I'm heading north again right now, back up to West Elm for the second day in a row.

I picked up our new storage bench yesterday, brought it home, and started to build it. Now, I'm an IKEA veteran. I've got a black belt in hex key and majored in modular furniture construction in grad school. At first, I was uber-impressed with West Elm's instructions. Everything was well labeled. All of the parts were well labeled. All of the steps were written out in clear and concise English. Kudos.

Unfortunately, when I got to Step 2 I found that the instruction diagrams no longer matched the pieces of furniture in front of me. As we continued to put it together, Amanda and I discovered that Wooden Dowel Hole (B) was drilled too far down and caused two dowels to push against each other at a corner joint. End result? Broken bench due to wood buckling and splitting.

I was pissed.

I called West Elm this morning. I asked for the sales lady who helped me yesterday. After treating me like a stalker ("Sir, we're not allowed to give out information about our employees' work schedules."), we chatted about the effed up piece of bench on my living room rug.

Much to their credit, they offered to 1.) replace it for a new one, and 2.) build the new one for me so that it'll just be waiting for me to pick it up when I get up there.

So, I'm taking broken-old-bench #1 to replace it for nifty-new-bench #2.

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

found lots of Johnny Bench baseball cards, though

Vacation. It's typically a treasured word. I'm in the middle of one right now; and yet, I barely care.

See, I got to a point at work where I hadn't taken any vacation time and was about to max out on my allotted amount of stored vacation hours. So, rather than simply work without getting any vacation time, I'm taking this week off so as to allow myself another week's worth of hour storage. There's no feeling of needing to decompress for a stressful period at work. There's no feeling of relaxation, freedom, and escapism. I'm just burning vacation hours. Woot.

So! My "vacation" so far? Totally focused on fixing up our apartment in preparation for the Housewarming Party we're having on Saturday. Manda and I have been hanging pictures, painting pictures, shopping for lighting and home accessories, etc.

Speaking of that, I spent two hours last night poking around online trying to find a nice bench we could put in our living room. I was shocked at how long it took and how difficult it was to find something. I've become so spoiled in the Google Era of the Information Age that I get frustrated if I can't find the information I'm looking for in under a minute. To search for something for two hours is nearly unheard of for me these days. I'm clearly not a research scientist.

Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Pier 1, Cost Plus, Macy*s, Sears, JC Penney, a dozen random online furniture stores, Scandinavian Designs, Craigslist, eBay, Ikea ::shudder:: - none of them had anything. It's not like we were looking for some ridiculous bench that no one else has. I just wanted to find a nice, simple black or dark wood bench, preferably with some storage, for about $200. Apparently, though, that isn't what sells, because the world has got some freakin' tacky taste in benches.

Take, for instance, Benches.com. All ugly. It's an entire website devoted to nothing but benches and I couldn't find a single, simple black bench. Am I nuts to expect that to exist?

None the less and frustration aside, Froogle eventually came through after two hours and a billion permutations of search terms and I discovered a cool modern furniture store that I didn't know about before. West Elm has the perfect storage bench that we wanted. Ry, you might be interested to know that the prices for their modern stuff are relatively reasonable and they have a store in Santa Monica.

So, today the house work continues. I'm headed up into Marin to pick up the bench and some other little things like a shower curtain and a floor lamp.

It's not the most fun vacation in the history of ever. But it's getting stuff done, so it's good.

Friday, September 30, 2005

comparing Apple and oranges

Okay. That's a lame title. None the less, most of the people who read my blog know already that Fiona Apple's new album comes out next week and that it's been pre-released on MySpace.com.

Having been listening to the pirated unreleased version of the album for about a month (that's right. I'm a pirate), it's a very interesting experience to listen to the finished versions of these songs. As I told Manda yesterday, it's an odd feeling to sing along to a new album upon first listening.

So, I thought I'd jot down my thoughts on the new tracks in case anyone is interested. As with all of her other material, I highly recommend taking a good close listen to this album. Without a doubt, I think Fiona Apple is the best lyricist around these days. There is such an incredible wit and wisdom to her lyrics, and such a heart-wrenchingly bittersweet honesty to everything. She has a way of writing that makes me feel as though my own version of similar emotions equate to little more than 7th grade sad girl poetry by comparison.

Anyway, the first track I heard of her new stuff was the title track, Extraordinary Machine. I'm thrilled to find that they've decided to go with it as the first track on the new album. It's fun; plain and simple. The arrangement is the same, much to my happy surprise. As far as I can tell, the sole difference is in the EQ of the tracks (the cellos and basses particularly have less pluck and more boom than the original).

Unfortunately, Get Him Back (track 2) has been retouched and it's production varied from the original version. I find that it's one of only two songs on the album that I don't like the new version. Disappointingly, this was also one of my favorite tracks on the pirated album. Now I find that I'm disinterested in the new version. Largely it has to do with the production work behind the last verse. There's this wash of George Martin-esque instrument fragments that just seem to overpower everything. The vocal seems to drown behind synths, reversed audio files, and some annoying little piano snippet that nags for attention like a gnat.

After that's O Sailor, and I must say, I didn't like the new version the first time I heard it, but I really do now. I don't know what it is I objected to at first; but the new one gets a big stamp of approval from me. I like the upped tempo and I love the sing-songy backing vocals at the end of the track. Initially, they were one of the biggest things I didn't like about the track (that and I missed the string arrangement of the original). It was the first track that I've ever heard her overdubbing vocals on and it bugged me. Now, however, I like it and think it's a great end cap for the tune. So, go figure.

I just deleted everything I was saying about Better Version of Me, track 4. I was saying "I really like it. It's so different." But, you know what? 1.) It's not all that different, 2.) I like the original better. : / I didn't think that was the case until I A/Bed them side by side. I'm not as much of a fan of the sax ensemble in the new one at the expense of the cool Mellotron flutes in the original. Oh well.

Tymps is the track that the pirated versions seemed to name Used To Love Him. It's pretty different. Less swanky, a little more hip-hop. Interestingly, I never really noticed the lyrics on the original version but was instantly aware of them on the remake. I like the new one. In almost all respects I think it's a great reinvention of the track. There's some very cool mandolin work that comes in briefly after the first chorus. The vocal works extraordinarily well with the new percussive nature of the backing tracks. Cool stuff.

Parting Gift is the only all new track and it's beautiful. Piana, vox, beautiful melody and lyrics - can't go wrong. It's the kind of track that makes me feel like it was written to go on vinyl. This is the perfect track to end side one.

And with that, I'll wrap up Side One of my thoughts on this stuff and leave the rest for later. Otherwise, this'll be way too long.

take that, bespin

TGIF. This beat is def. Can I get a witness, Jeff? [Yes.] Are you ready to start things off yet? ::scratchy-scratchy... scratch:: A'ight. Bet.

Today I had a gorgeous drive into work. As I was driving along the ocean, just outside the Presidio gates, the ocean and the bay were both completely obscured by clouds and low-lying fog. Poking just up over the top of everything were the mammoth orange spires of the Golden Gate Bridge and a ridge of mountains on the Marin side of the bay.

I felt like I was living in a city among the clouds. There was a very dream-like, detached quality to everything.

It was so beautiful that I actually pulled my car over and tried to take a picture of it with my camera phone. Didn't turn out that well.


That's mountains on the left, a very japanese tree in the foreground, and the smear on the right is The Bridge.

As I stood there with the cool breeze in my face, two fog horns called to each other - honking like two lusty geese. It was an odd sound, but added to the weird dreamy quality of everything.

I like my city in the clouds. It was a nice moment.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

shi-poop, plain and simple

Everyone gets songs stuck in their heads. Maybe musicians are more prone to it; I don't know. What I do know is that I have a nasty habit of getting a single song stuck in my head that starts to function as a type of audio screen saver.

Whenever nothing's going on, that song will just start playing. Typically, these things hang around for years.


From about 1990 to 1998, my audio screen saver was "Life Loves a Tragedy" by Poison. From 1998 until this year, it's been "What Is And What Should Never Be" by Zeppelin. Thankfully, the Zep tune seems to be in decline. The problem is, whenever I get a song stuck in my head, I worry that it's become the new default audio screen saver.

Which brings me to today. All day today I've had "Shi-Poo-Pi" from the wretched The Music Man stuck in my head. I don't like musicals. I find them to be the lowest form of entertainment, roughly on par with Blind Date and Springer.

I mean ... Shi-poo-pi ... seriously? Let's take a quick look at what it contributes to our society:

Squeeze her once when she isn't lookin',
If you get a squeeze back, that's fancy cookin',
Once more for a pepper-upper,
She will never get sore on her way to supper.

Shi-Poo-Pi! The girl who's hard to get.

Shi-Poo-Pi! But you can win her yet.

Swill. If I have to listen to this crap on and off until 2011, I'm going to go nuts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

it happened again

There are going to be a couple of people pretty pissed at me about this, but two events that have occurred repeatedly in my past just occurred again.

First off, my car registration expired. I don't know how it happened. The bill got away from me or something. I have a bad habit of forgetting about my registration and letting it lapse; it's an annoying thing that I've done repeatedly throughout my driving history. How did I find out? Well, as usual with this scenario, I got pulled over by the police on my way to work.

The thing is, the thing that's going to piss people off is that he actually pulled me over for speeding. I was going 46 in a 35 zone. He pulled me over, told me that I was going 11 miles over the speed limit and that my registration was expired. The officer then marched off to his patrol car, chatted on the radio for a bit, and then came back to tell me "I'm not going to give you a speeding ticket. I'm just going to give you a fix-it ticket for your registration. You have one month to get it fixed."

This might be the 4th or 5th time I've been pulled over for speeding and let off without a speeding ticket. I think the police keep letting me off because they look at my record and say "Hm. Well, he's never had a speeding ticket before. Must have just been a lapse in judgment."

I'm getting karmically nervous about it all, actually. I have a bad feeling that something out there is going to come along and bite me in the ass pretty severely just to make up for all of the times that I've gotten off without a scratch.

I'm nervous just writing this all down, in fact. Hopefully I can knock on some eWood and everything will be okay.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

enter: THE ZONE

I was so in The Zone just now.

Last week, I downloaded Bejeweled onto my cellphone and I've found myself losing big chunks of time to it ever since. While waiting for a bunch of stuff to copy on my computer, I busted out the Bejeweled.

My high score was 10,630 and I was having a hard time getting beyond that.

But just now ... oh man, was I in The Zone. I could do no wrong. Cartoony jewels were disappearing left right and center off of that thing ...

It took forever, but my high score is now 18,750. Self, you may now consider the bar officially upped.

Monday, September 26, 2005

busy as a ... seal! SEAL!!

Manda and I had a really busy weekend: a friend's wedding, a birthday party Sunday night, hanging with more friends Saturday night, helping other friends move some furniture Sunday morning, and - the only real "quiet" time we got to spend together - painting some pottery together at a Color Me Mine clone called All Fired Up.

I put quiet in quotes (inverted commas, for my British readers [do I have British readers? {who knows. but I do have three sets of brackets now in this sentence.}]) because our quiet time alone painting pottery ended up being shared in the same room with a birthday party for 20 seven year-olds. Well, actually, the party was only for one of them; but there were 20 or so of the 7 and Under crowd hanging out.

By far, the highlight of their party (for Manda and I anyway) was when they all finished painting their whatevers and the Head Mom started vamping to fill time.

Enter: Charades.

When given the ability to act out anything you can think of, 7 year-olds seem to all go for animals. So, as soon as they began charading(?), the room filled with shouts of "DOG!!" or "CAT!!!!" All of course, relatively normal shouts. All except for one girl who - no matter what the charader(?) was acting out - would yell "SEAL!!" at the top of her lungs. 'Twas awesome and we laughed at that kid a lot.

You hear that 7 year-old kid? We were laughing at you.

Also entertaining, yet in a very different way, was the mom we saw there who was living vicariously through her 7 year-old son. She brought him in there so that "he" could paint some pottery. She then proceeded to pick all of his colors and tell him what to paint.

"Do you want to paint polka dots on the outside? They'd look really great."

My favorite part of their painting time came when I heard her say "I'm not going to paint any of your polka dots." Followed closely by "Okay, I'm just going to paint this one to show you how to do it." After hearing her say "Oh, that's PERFECT!" I looked up to see that she had just finished painting her 15th polka dot while her son sat dejectedly nearby watching his mom paint "his" mug.

Sometimes parents are awesome. Sometimes they are that lady. That lady was clearly that lady.

Friday, September 23, 2005

well wishes

Not much doin' on my end.

Here's hoping, however, that everything is okay down South for the Phobucket Clan vs. Hurricane Rita.

Or maybe we could call it "The Rumble Down Umble."

I don't know what an umble is; but whatever it is, I'm sure Amanda is one.

; )

just kidding.

Anyway, be well, Ben.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

let down again

Got a package at work this afternoon. At first, I was really excited, as I thought the power supply for the monitor switcher had finally arrived.

Turns out it was just the Logic upgrade I ordered last week.

At least Apple's on the ball with their orders.

Oh well. Back to burying myself in databasi.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

phone tree rage

I'm setting up my office finally this week. See, when we moved into the Presidio, I was neck deep working on the music assets to Battlefront 2.

quick aside: does it seem to anyone else like neck should be spelled kneck? It feels like it should to me today. Knock, know, kneck. See?

Anyway, Battlefront 2. Yeah, so I'm done with it now. This means that when I moved into my office, I only really had time to set up my office enough to keep working on the project (to be read as: only functionally enough to do music editing). Well, now I'm going ahead and setting up everything else: software instruments, computer upgrades, integrating Gigastudio into Logic 7, etc.

I have three Gigastudios in my office right now. Ultimately, they're all going to be linked to one monitor via a monitor switcher. They're not at the moment because - somehow - the 5 volt power adapter to the monitor switcher didn't make the move with us over to the Presidio.

This means I had to order one. [Cue Jesse ranting.] The company that makes the monitor switcher is called IO Gear. When I first ordered the part, they said "We're back ordered right now. When we get them in next week, we'll send them out to you."

Fine. No prob. Except that when the next week rolled around, it never arrived. I called them and was told "Oh, sorry. Yeah, we're back ordered on that. When they get in, we'll send it out to you. You should have it by September 12th."

Yesterday was the 20th and I still didn't have it. I called again. Here's a run-down of the customer service Hiroshima that I dealt with:

1. I navigate a vague and mildly confusing automated phone tree for a while. Eventually, First Guy answers the phone and then gets really happy when he realizes he doesn't have to talk to me because he can funnel me off to someone else.

2. After waiting on hold for about 5 minutes, I find out he funneled me to the voice mail for their Strategic Marketing Manager. There's no way to back out to the main menu. I have to hang up, call again, navigate the same stupid phone tree, and wait for someone to answer.

3. I get the same guy when I call back. He acts like he's a different guy, despite his unique voice. He tosses me off into the phone system for a while again.

4. After a wait, I get a guy who's pretty knowledgeable. When I tell him I placed an order over the phone, he responds with "WHAT?! We're not supposed to do that! Who did you talk to?!" I didn't know. "What's the case number?" They never gave me one. "Wow ... We're not supposed to be doing business like that. Let me put you on hold for a moment."

5. This time, the phone system kicks in and says "Your average wait time will be [4] minutes." After four minutes, it tells me to leave them a message so that someone can call me back. If I don't want to leave a message, I can go back to the main on-hold queue.

5. I go back to being on hold (no one ever calls you back when you leave a message on a customer support line). After 27 minutes of being on hold, I hang up.

All for a freakin' power plug. Today I called back and - not all that surprisingly - they told me that "We're back ordered. You should have it by Monday the 25th."

We'll see about that, IO Gear.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

it finally happened


That's how much gas cost me this morning on my way into work. That was to fill up my tank with the lowest grade stuff. I've been watching it dance nearer and nearer the $40 barrier for weeks now. But, today, it finally tumbled over the line and into the $40s.

I've been telling myself "As soon as it crosses over to $40 a fill-up, I'm taking the train."

So, I guess it's time to start taking the train. I'll try and figure out the schedules and whatnot today and then start taking it this Thursday.

Here's hoping that sooner or later enough people stop driving to kick in the laws of supply and demand.

Monday, September 19, 2005

the rebirth of Rebirth™

Today I downloaded and installed the Rebirth™ Refill for Propellerheads' Reason 3.0.

Hoo-nanny, I'm a happy composer.

To me, Rebirth was a far superior drum machine to Reason only because of the many user-created mods that existed.

After having their user base bitch about the lack of an OSX-version of Rebirth for years, Reason finally decided to become Super Awesome Gods of the World by releasing a Refill pack (a term here meaning "extra drum sounds", for those unfamiliar with Reason terminology) that contains all of the Rebirth User Mods ever hosted on the Propellerheads website.

So, anyway, I downloaded it, installed it, and started to reacquaint myself with some old friends; particularly the Red Stripe and Regulator mods. I love those two; used to use them all of the time.

So, I'm happy that Rebirth has risen from the ashes into a much cooler tool than it used to be. Because of the nature of Reason, now you can use just the samples you like from each of the Mods, instead of the whole thing - which means no more loading up one Mod just for that one cool noise mapped to F#4. Now you can create your own kit that includes it.

Ah, I'm a happy little MIDI programmer ...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

near miss

Bunnies, squirrels, deer - all cuddly Friends of Bambi. They're also all common roadkill. There are certain animals you expect to see in the road and others that you don't.



Anyway, you get the point. Also very unexpected was the ENORMOUS Falcon that I almost drove head-on into this morning on my way into work. This thing was huge. Big wing span, huge body, and it flew very quickly at my car only to swerve and miss me by about a foot.

Pretty scary.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

we can rebuild him

The G4 is dead, long live the G5.

Today's a happy day in the little hamlet of My Office. The new computer stuff is going well. This stuff takes forever, though. I'm so glad I don't have to do this frequently.

As of this week, I've been able to officially rule out IT Guy from my potential career paths.

Otherwise, not much going on. So little in fact, that it's take me 2 hours just to write this. (well, not two non-stop hours. I keep turning away from it and trying to think of something more entertaining to write about).

Netflix received our movies we mailed back to them, so the next two flicks (flix?) should be winging their way to us now. That makes me happy.

And Survivor starts on Thursday night. That makes me very happy. What a good little show.

I give up. I'm boring today.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

another day, another kernel panic

Still burning DVDs amidst a mess of crashes. I hate this computer.

I've also started over playing Metal Gear Solid 3. I love this game. There is so much depth to it.

So frequently if I think of something I want to do in the game, I find out that its possible as an actual move. Want to shoot a hornet's nest off of a tree in the hopes that it has honey inside of it? Go ahead; it does. Want to contact your special ops radio folks and ask about the hornet's nest you just found? Go ahead. They've recorded a whole conversation just in case you decided to do that. It's cool. There's so much you can do.

Except for jumping. Solid Snake, the main character, can't jump. That's a little weird.

So I guess that's Solid Snake 0, Pitfall Harry 1.

Monday, September 12, 2005

last few hurrahs

I've been spending the last few days backing up my computer onto DVDs so that I can replace it with a nice new computer.

See, my computer has always had problems. Lots and lots and lots of Kernel Panics. More than normal, and more than anyone has ever been able to figure out a cause for. We checked drivers, software updates, hardware compatibility, memory, Permissions, etc. You name it; we checked it.

The end result was that I came to simply see this computer as a home to Gremlins.

Anyway, here I am on the verge of being rid of this thing and its Gremlin-ridden carcass, and all I have to do is finish burning a few more DVDs.

What does it decide to do today? September Kernel Panic-athon 2005. It must have heard me telling Harrison that I was almost done and going to ditch it, because it's doing everything it can to crash as much as possible. It seems to really love crashing in the middle of burning discs now. So, not only do I have to reburn the disc, but ... well, I guess that's it. But still! It's annoying.

I'll finish soon and then it's "Smell you later, G4. Smell you now, G5."

Friday, September 09, 2005

hard life lessons

Today is a day of archiving and backups, so my computer is pretty much completely tied up with DVD burning.

As I wait on stuff to burn, I'm sitting here being schooled in hard life lessons by freeware apps.

Take, for instance, the rough lesson Minesweeper just taught me.

Sometimes, no matter how much time or planning you put into something, life just comes down to a 50/50 Craps shoot.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

i've got blistas on me fingas!!

I've started to play games again after about a three month hiatus. In all honesty, it hasn't actually been that long; I play games at work in the process of doing my job (I've logged a lot of hours on Battlefront 2 over the last 5 months).

What I mean, though, is that I haven't played games much at home when I'm done at work. It happens from time to time. Seems to happen most frequently when I'm neck-deep in a project. While I'm plugging away on a game at work, I have little interest in going home and either 1.) listening to music (especially classical music) and 2.) playing any games.

Well, with some more time on my hands these days, I've started to pick up the controller again. Over the last week, I beat God of War. I'm torn as to whether I think its a great game or not.

Everything that I typically use to gauge a game's worth - camera, controls, basic gameplay mechanisms, voice acting, story - all of these things are absolutely fantastic. The fixed camera annoyed me a bit at first, but I got used to it. Sony's created a great atmosphere with the game, fleshed it out well with some of the best scripting (story-wise, not trigger-wise) I've ever seen in a game, and created a game that remains true to itself through the entire 10+ hours or so of gameplay. Perhaps most impressively, they've created a game that has a really great ending that feels like it pays off on the journey to get there. No small task; many great games fall on their face with their endings (Spider-Man for the PS1 immediately comes to mind).

My problem with it comes from its "M" rating. For the most part, it's a Teen rated game: violence against mythical creatures, no cursing, etc. The thing is, in the game's cutscenes, there's a RIDICULOUS amount of blood and repeated gratuitous female nudity. If an enemy is killed in a cutscene, the poor sod instantly seems to jettison all of the blood from his body out of whatever wound he just incurred. And if the character is female, chances are that she's there topless (or in a sheer top). Anyway, there's a lot of seemingly pointless nipplage.

The thing is, neither of these elements seem to really make the game any better. They don't seem to have a point. They seem to only be there to bump the Teen rating up to a Mature rating. I think the end result is a game that completely succeeds in alienating some of their prospective audience.

See, at it's heart, the game is very reminiscent of Prince of Persia. Many of the gameplay mechanisms are the same: glowing columns of save points, environmental puzzling melded seamlessly into the level design, strong/light combat moves with special moves, dagger-armed main heroes, etc. That said, there was a great fanciful storytelling element of PoP that God of War lacks. SAT time:

Prince of Persia:Dragonslayer::God of War:

A. Conan the Barbarian
B. Conan the Govenor
C. Conan O'Brian
D. Whatever, I've muddled my point.

The end result was that PoP was a game both Amanda and I enjoyed. Meanwhile, the cutscenes of God of War make me feel that, should we play the game together, I'd feel embarrassed on behalf of the Devs whenever a topless Greek lady got beheaded and gushed gallons of blood out of her neck.

It bugs me, I guess, and it has me still debating what I think of the game. I suppose I like the "game" part of it and don't like the developers. Maybe it's just the director or art director. Who knows. All I know is that I anxiously awaited the PoP sequel and I don't particularly care about a God of War sequel.

Mainly because I'm disappointed in the execution of what could have been a phenomenal game if it didn't seem to stoop so low for sex appeal and shock factor.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

oogie woogie

My dad was fond of giving his kids nicknames. When my brother and I were growing up, "Jesse" and "Ryan" were hardly used. Instead, I started out being called "Jess Beau" as in French for "Handsome Jess." Kinda' embarrassing to talk about, I guess. Anyway, that's what the name was.

At first, anyway. Over time, it morphed from Jess Beau, to Jess Bo, to Bo Dog, to Bo Dog Harlin Dog, to (I believe at last) Jess Bo Bo Dog Harlin Dog Doggy. This last name was usually said while picking me up in a bear hug and twirling me around some.

Ry was alternately "Ry Man" or "Ry Guy." The names seemed to calm down a little when we got older. When our sister was born, however, my dad's nicknaming returned in full-force from is long sabbatical. Somehow Kody became "Beauter." Beauter then became Beautius T. Beauter or Beautius Maximus.

Anyway, I say all of this because as I was driving into work today, I heard a commercial on the radio for BoDog.com. I found it a little disappointing to discover that my nickname from my dad has become an online poker site.

Also of note:

- RyMan.com is the homepage for a theater in Nashville.
- And RyGuy.com seems to give me a 403 Forbidden Error Message.

I guess the good news is that, so far, jessbeau.com, beautiustbeauter.net, and jessbobodogharlindogdoggy.org don't seem to be taken.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

no way to understand this either

On a different note, Amanda and I went to IKEA this weekend. In line in front of us was a Gen-Xer with a tattoo on his leg. Not too surprising.

What was surprising was its ridiculously lame subject matter.

It was a an open jar of Creamy Jif™ peanut butter. I mean, when that guy's 80 years old and we all live on the Moon eating soy tablets, he's going to have to explain to his grandkids what peanut butter is, why he liked it so much to get it tattooed on his body, why he chose the brand Jif™, etc.

Hands down, lamest tattoo I've ever seen.

Runner up? This thing.

there's no way to understand it all

Amanda and I spent a large chunk of our weekend glued to the News, completely immersed in the stories of Katrina.

It's just so unfathomable down there. I heard so many things that just seem to defy any sense what so ever:

- Some female survivors weren't rescued because they wouldn't flash their rescuers their breasts.
- The New Orlean's police were taxed to the breaking point and started quitting and killing themselves.
- A sniper was shooting at doctors and patients as they tried to evacuated the destroyed Charity Hospital.

It's crazy. Hundreds of thousands of people have had their lives destroyed. Forced to leave Louisiana, some are now looking to settle into whereever it is they've been relocated to. It makes sense. How do you go back to nothing? When you have nothing, why not just start over whereever you are? Is it easier to just start over than to knock down and demolish the wreck of your old life and then start over?

By the way, did everyone else see that Barbara Bush thinks that the situation the poor are now in following Katrina is "working out well for them?" Insane.

All of this is insane.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

i mean this as sincerely as possible

I was wrong.

I'm sorry.

I've changed my point of view and regret the mistakes of the past.

Just needed to say that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

ON DEMANDing something better

"An Exploration of Inherent Design and User Interface Flaws Within a Downloadable Home Cinema Paradigm"

or "Why ON DEMAND Can Suck It"

a rant by Jesse Harlin

Last night, Amanda and I decided to watch a movie on ON DEMAND, Comcast's Digital Cable answer to Net Flicks. I mumbled a bit about it before. Anyway, last night, Manda and I decided to watch "Ray," the Ray Charles biopic. It was okay. Not the greatest flick I've ever seen, not the worst (Well acted+odd direction/weak ending=just okay). Now, for those who haven't seen it yet, this is a long film. The short version is 2 1/2 hours long. The long version is 3 hours. I'm not sure which version we saw. Regardless, it's long.

Amanda and I were WELL into the flick (2+ hours) when I decided I wanted a drink. Now, if you watch Comcast's commercials for ON DEMAND, getting a drink in the middle of a movie is one of their much-touted benefits. "Sweet!" thought I. "I'm like Commercial Guy in the commercial who happily got himself a drink while watching his movie. The future is now!" We paused the movie, wandered into the kitchen, got some sodas, and - as we were crumpling up the recycling - the TV started to make noise again.

When we walked back into the living room, we found that the movie had unpaused itself and returned to the main ON DEMAND menu. Now, I wasn't all together surprised. Typically, if you start watching something on ON DEMAND, it downloads it onto your DVR and you have it available to you for 24 hours. This means that if you stop watching something, it'll remember where you were and give you a RESUME option (as in "start watching again," not "curriculum vitae").

Funny thing. What did surprise me was that Ray wasn't on our "SAVED PROGRAMS." We poked around through some awkward menus for a while. No luck. We tried to get it to resume by just selecting it again. It started over at the beginning.

The only option available to us was to sit there for about 10-15 minutes fast forwarding a 3 hour movie at 1x speed until we got back to where we were before I had had the nerve to get a drink.

Even the first few Precambrian Era DVDs had a freakin' Chapter Select option. The Comcast user interface is pretty bad to begin with. Add on top of that functionality that is buggy and apparently only works for those Hoity-Toity Jerks in the commercials. Damn you, Commercial Guy. Damn you and your well-wetted whistle...

In conclusion, ON DEMAND can suck it.