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.

Monday, August 29, 2005

didn't composing have something to do with music?

For the next few days, I'm neck deep in some of the more tedious parts of my job. Can't really talk about it; I promised myself I wouldn't talk about anything work related on here that hadn't been officially released in a press release. Suffice it to say, it's dull.

And it had me thinking about the job of a Game Composer and what it is versus what I thought it would be. My business card says "Composer" but that's too simplistic. It implies that I just sit around all day, hunkered over a piano, scribbling Opus No. Y down. I would imagine that most people's perception of what a composer is/does hasn't really changed much since the 1700's.

But writing music (or editing, as I've been doing mostly of late) is such a small part of it all. Particularly for an on-staff game composer. There are so many meetings: meetings with my department, meetings with the project teams, meetings with QA, meetings with the project's Sound team, meetings with Producers/Directors/Assistant Producers, etc. Accompanying the meetings are all of the thousands of hours I spend doing documentation. Excel docs, Word docs, emails outlining what Excel and Word docs I'm working on, emails outlining what the completed Excel and Word docs mean, PowerPoint docs, etc.

There's the scripting and implementation time it takes to get the music into the game. There's the QA time involved in playing through levels making sure that everything works correctly. I swear, if I weren't as good of a gamer as I am, I doubt I'd know how anything sounded beyond level 1. I don't know how people can do this job if they don't play/like games.

There's archiving work to be done. There's meetings and Excel docs to create about archiving work to be done. There's so much stuff that just has nothing to do with Plagal cadences or Drop 2 sax arrangements.

I suppose meetings are a historical part of any creative job that mostly goes ignored. Hell, even Michelangelo had to meet frequently with The Pope. It's this weird thing that every Professional creative person must know, and yet I don't remember the subject ever really being taught in school.

Does any job ever live up to what we think it will be when we start it?

Friday, August 26, 2005

With a name like oogu, it has to be gdoodg.

I'm a sucker for symmetry, always have been. I'm not sure why. Give me Deco over Nouveau any day. It pops up in my life all over the place: in my own graphic design work, in the way I remove self-adhesive stamps from those sheets you get at the post office, and in the little mini-events I create from the numbers on my odometer.

There are two things I celebrate on my odometer, big milestone numbers and palindromes. Usually, I somehow manage to constantly set myself up for disappointment by looking forward to big numbers only to then miss their occurrence. For instance, yesterday on my drive home from work, my car rolled over to 150,000 miles. Pretty cool, except that I forgot to look until it had already passed and read "150,002." That annoys me. That's an ugly number.

But today, on the way into work, I got to enjoy the little mini-celebration that came with 150051.

The biggest odometer disappointment I've had was when I had calculated where I'd have to set my tripometer so that, between the odometer and the tripometer, the car would read "123456 789.0" (I say "calculated" like it involved rocket science. I certainly didn't keep me up at nights). Anyway, everything was going fine until my freakin' tripometer broke. Now, as a monument to my neurotic need for the car to show me every number at once on its -ometers, my tripometer is stuck at 19.9 miles like the freakin' Hill Valley clock after getting struck by lightning.

One of the few places in life where symmetry means nothing to me is in matching socks.

To me, there's a hierarchy of sock matching that goes as follows (in order of Most Important to Match to Least Important to Match):

1. Texture
2. Elasticity
3. Length
4. Color

My feet don't know the difference between a red sock and a green sock. Hell, with my color blindness, I barely know the difference. But they sure as shit know the difference between a wool sock and dress sock. Or the difference between a sock that won't stay up compared to one that grips my leg so tight it rips out leg hair.

Anyway, this Sockarchy list is something I've mumbled incoherently to Amanda for years. It seemed like the right kind of post to finally put it down for all posterity.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

hodge pBLOdGe

First off, I apologize for the word "pblodge." Second of all, fun little story for yous guys over at Ferocious Gravy, the source for all your James Taylor-related violence stories.

I'm back at work after being out sick yesterday. I don't particularly feel any better, so allow me to make the following emoticon:

>: P

That's all, I guess. Oh, and over on Dig-A-Deep, there's some big news a-brewin'.

So... I guess that wasn't all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

sick day

And not the fun, Ferris Beuller kind either. The real kind.

I'm home feeling lousy and writing about it online. The inside of my mouth feels like some type of tropical vacation resort for germs. Hopefully, they'll take offense to the blast of Listerine I'm about to give them.

Anyway, nothing exciting to say today. I suppose that implies that I ever say anything exciting. Here's this from yesterday in case anyone missed it:

Knowing that some of you are music heads, Bob Moog died.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

finally, a cause I can really get ::horn honk::

Radio censorship is really just getting ridiculously out of control. Sure, censorship first began running rampant after September 11th and Clear Channel's list of banned songs and then swelled into a country-wide lumbering Juggernaut after we all caught a peek at Janet Jackson's boob.

The thing that drives me nuts about it all, though, is the incredibly inconsistent standards used to figure out what gets censored and when. Take, for example, the song Date Rape by Sublime. This song was uncensored on regular radio as of a few years ago. Now, however, it's been censored and played this morning on 104.9 as Manda and I lay in bed trying to wake up this morning.

For those who aren't familiar about with the song, it's about a guy who rapes a woman, gets convicted of the crime, and then goes to jail where he's raped himself. Here's what just pisses me off completely about how this song is being censored, though. Let's take a look at some of the lyrics. [The highlighting is my doing to illustrate a point.]

That night in jail it was getting late.
He was butt-raped by a large inmate, and he screamed.
But the guards paid no attention to his cries.


They locked him up and threw away the key.
Well, I can't take pity on men of his kind,

even though he now takes it in the behind.

Okay. So, here we have two different stanzas that, essentially, revolve around anal sex. Now, what completely baffles me and - quite frankly - pisses me off is that "butt-raped" is not censored but "takes it in the behind" is. Every time the word "behind" was said, there was some kind of ridiculous sound effect: slide whistles, horn honks, etc.

What the fuck? Is it possible that, because "takes it in the behind" doesn't have a specific statement of violence like the phrase "butt-rape," 104.9 then sees "takes it in the behind" as a statement of consensual homosexual sex and therefore censored it?

It's absolutely ludicrous. Why don't we all just start dressing like Pilgrims again and get it over with. Forget the shiny silver jumpsuits we were all supposed to be wearing in 2005. Someone tell Wall-Mart to start stocking Chinese-made Monk robes and we'll all just start flagellantly beating ourselves back into the dark ages.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Roommates suck. Not significant other roommates; the other kind. I don't know what's worse: living with friends, or living with strangers. With strangers, there's an expectation that they'll be awkward weirdos. You go into that situation cautiously and then they always prove you right. With friends, you think they're normal but they end up being awkward weirdos.

I can't possibly express how happy I am to be done with that part of my life. Without naming any names, let's take a quick look at what I'm talking about by investigating my roommate history.

1. The Perv - ran up multi-hundred dollar long distance bills calling Jamaican phone sex lines.
2. The Couple - only one was actually my roommate. His girlfriend, however, was constantly there and they'd get drunk at night and then fool around in his bed - even though we shared a room. What did they think they had, a forcefield? I could always hear them.
3. The Squeaky Wheel - caused tension amongst all of the house and then moved out after only 3 months amongst a flurry of anger and lies.
4. The Neat Freak - Was frequently annoyed with the guys in the house for leaving the toilet seat lid up. Not the seat mind you. The seat was always down (we'd been yelled at for that earlier). The lid, folks. The lid.
5. The Mooch - ran up multi-hundred dollar long distance bill and then never paid for any of it. 'Cuz the bill was in my name, I had to pay it. Still owes me $400.
6. The Flake - Not the brightest bulb. Left unexpectedly after a while. We got calls from collection agencies looking for him for months.
7. The Wizard Romeo - found a To-Do list of his including "perform spell 3 more times before vacation." Used to have women over during the day while I was working, doink them loudly in the next room, and then introduce me to them afterwards. Afterwards. After they had both been yelling loudly right next to my room. "Oh! Oh Yeah! Oh baby!" Pause. "Hi, nice to meet you." One word: AWKWARD.

Yeah. Roommates suck.

wizards, boulders, and nerds - three great tastes together at last!

This weekend, Amanda and I went up to her mom's cabin near Yomemite and relaxed amongst the wilderness for the weekend.

We had a great time. I'd never actually been to Yosemite before this weekend. Man O Man, if that ain't the purdiest lil' boulder field I ever done seen. It's a gorgeous valley, quite literally, and surrounded by these enormous granite walls. They're so spectacular.

We had a picnic in the shadow of El Capitan and read more of Harry Potter book 6. That night, we rented Napoleon Dynamite. Climbing on rocks, reading, and then watching an awkward high school experience - it was like being 13 years old again! (Oh wait ... that's not a good thing ...)

Seriously, though, it was a good weekend. That said, I did enjoy getting back home last night. Again, I'm astounded by how mild and comfortable the Bay Area is while the rest of the country endures Summer.

Friday, August 19, 2005

the best laid plans ...

Last night, after months and months of planning, I gave Amanda her birthday present. Though her birthday isn't for another week or so, the original plan was to give her her presents this weekend. We're going away to Yosemite and I thought it would be nice to celebrate her birthday up there.

Well, for her birthday, I had this grand theme of "relaxation." I got her a bunch of bubble bath stuff and some peppermint foot lotion from The Body Shop. The biggest part of the present, however, was a novel. Not just any novel; the first three chapters of a novel I've been writing for her over the last six months. It's taken a ton of work and gobs of my freetime to get it to where it was. But it was printed and ready to go, and like I said, going to be unveiled on Saturday.

Enter life and its inherent complexities. As we sat down to eat dinner last night, Amanda looks at me and says completely out of the blue "I would love to have a bubble bath tonight. It'd be so great if I could take a bubble bath while you read me Harry Potter..." My eyes went wide.

Holy crap, thought I, that's exactly my birthday present to her and its sitting wrapped upstairs as we speak.

She then continued. "I almost stopped off to by some bubble bath stuff on my way home tonight, but then you called and asked me to pick up the chinese food on my way home."

My eyes got wider and I started to wrestle with what I should do. I figured I could either wait until Saturday and give it to her when we were acting like it was her birthday. Or I could spontaneously spring her birthday on her and give it to her then thereby granting her her birthday wish.

The wish won out. So, Manda had her luxurious bubble bath while I read her chapter 1 of The Amber Lantern by candlelight.

It didn't go the way I planned, but I'm not complaining. She seemed to love her presents and cried a few tears of joy. I'm really glad I could make her so happy; and after six months of secrecy, I'm still a bit shocked that I can now openly talk about the book.

(everyone else can avert their eyes now if they're anti-Blog-Displays-Of-Affection)

So, Happy Birthday, Rooni. Hope it was a nice night for you. I love you.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


I'm not kidding. I love it. Not the meat product. The email trash.

Don't get me wrong. Most of the time it's totally useless. But every now and then you get something in your inbox that looks like it's straight out of the head of Gary Busey.

Take this gem for instance. This showed up in my inbox this morning.

Subject: Getting back to you. [I hope to God this is actually in reference to something I wanted; it's awesome]

Who's been saying that anti-nuclear demonstrators should kiss the Sumo wrestlers?
Eskimos laugh it up with misers.
Who work in our models and then some scalar multiple of this work we are maximising a function of two mwg globular clusters to lie on the edge at an accurately-known location.

Comedians rule over the ballroom dancers.

Who will believe Paula Jones now that she's claiming mobile home owners panic the blenders?
Astronauts travel far to see banjo players.

Most caffeine addicts feel that the barnyard animals aren't fit to clean up after Sumo wrestlers.

During leap years the fast food cooks cannot understand bowlers.

Panthers faint at the sight of seismologists.

I would have voided thee but get thee gone farewell.
Why do people think that ghosts travel far to see English students? Unwed mothers disfigure the bikers. Reptiles live with fiends.

Every night, when the ghost of Elvis visits me, I learn that the copy machine repairmen sue the law students.

I mean ... seriously? What. The. Eff. It's awesome, innit? Even the insane number of carriage returns are awesome. Like some sort of pristine portrait of lunacy. "I would have voided thee but get thee gone farewell." It's just total crazy person poetry. Beautiful. Like the voice of God himself garbled through SPAM filters. I love it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

a title that's equal parts witty and patriotic

For the last month, since we moved into the new Presidio campus, I've been driving up 280 on my way to work every morning.

On the way, I pass by the Golden Gate National Cemetery. The sea of white headstones stands out starkly against the rolling green hills of San Bruno. But it's not the headstones that I see first every day.

It's the flag. Almost every day, the flag is at half-mast. After weeks of seeing it at half mast, I thought "Well, this is just too frequent. It must be always at half mast for the purposes of symbolism." However, I did then eventually see it at full mast [strangely not hyphenated, while "half-mast" is] and that theory went out the window.

Today I got curious and called the cemetery. They told me that the flag is at half mast "a half an hour before the first interment ceremony and taken down a half an hour after the last interment ceremony." If they don't have any ceremonies, sometimes they also get calls from Washington asking them to lower it in honor of other servicemen and women.

Every day as I drive into work to make video games, there's a flag that reminds me that people are dying over seas. It's more poignant a statement than any of those ridiculous magnetic ribbons have ever made.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

quiet day

Not much going on today. I'm frustrated by my inability to get through to Reserve America so as to make some camping reservations for this weekend.

Otherwise, just working on work. Pretty dull.

So, in honor of pretty dull, here's something not so dull:

a gallery of pictures devoted to nothing but totalled luxary and exotic cars.

Monday, August 15, 2005

here in my car i feel safest of all

Driving into work today, I suddenly became aware of the fact that I was trying to live my life along side dozens of other people, all of us flying down the freeway at 75 miles per hour (yeah, you heard me right, CHP).

I was minding my own business, listening to the radio contentedly as I always do, when this red car pulled up beside me. The woman in the car was furiously yelling her self silly at someone on the other end of her cellphone.

Something about it struck me as odd. I thought I'm about 5 feet away from this complete stranger and she's having an incredibly emotional, incredibly personal moment right beside me. It was strange. I started looking around and, sure enough, everyone around me seemed to be living some little moment of their lives. People were singing loudly, many were on cellphones, some were laughing, some looked bored/weary/fed up with their lives. It was like becoming suddenly self-aware, only ... I guess I had become aware of everyone else's selves ... so, that's a bad analogy.

Are our cars the only bubbles of invisibility where we really feel like we're disconnected from all of the other strangers in plain view? I tried to think of others. I can't. Maybe that moment before everyone deplanes at the gate and you can hear that voyeuristic mix of everyone's personal cellphone calls to colleagues and family, but its not really the same.

Anyway, I found it oddly thought provoking today.

Friday, August 12, 2005

pure Delite

Yesterday was the best birthday I've had in years, maybe ever. Throughout the day, everyone was very nice to me: plenty of kind words, a few cards, a yummy berry-covered torte that we all shared as a department. It was a nice day.

All the while, I was getting more and more antsy to find out exactly what it was Amanda had up her sleeve for me that evening. She'd been anxiously telling me how excited she was for my birthday to arrive for about a week or so.

Now, for those who don't know me, some backstory:

I grew up outside of Philadelphia. My mom had a tradition with birthdays. Whoever was having the birthday got to pick whatever they wanted for dinner that night. We called it, predictably enough, the Birthday Dinner. It's a nice tradition and one I hope to do with my own kids someday.

Anyway, just up the street from my old house was a pizza place called Italian Delite. I LOVE their pizza; always have. To me, this is the greatest pizza place in the world. Something about the scalding sauce, the molten cheese, the wafer thin crust - everything about it is perfect, as far as I'm concerned. When I'd come home from England during college, we'd sometimes have to stop off at Italian Delite before we even made it home. It's awesome, and it's one of the biggest things I missed about moving away from Philly to the West Coast.

So, (still in backstory here), every year for my birthday I picked Italian Delite pizza as my Birthday Dinner. Without fail. Every year, that was it. No question. Since I moved out to California, I've been struggling to make do and figure out other favorite meals that I like on my birthday, but I've always missed the traditional Italian Delite pizza.

::wavy visual effects and whole-tone scale::

Flashback over. The original plan for last night was as follows:

Come home, cook some tacos with Amanda, sit down together and watch Defending Your Life. A great little birthday plan. I was really looking forward to it.

However, when I walked in the door last night, Amanda wouldn't let me near the kitchen. I sat down at the dining room table and she asked:
"Smell like tacos?"
To which I relied, "[Yummy sound] Yeah, sure does."
To which she replied "No, it doesn't."

Before I know it, she pulls a pizza out of the oven. At this point, I'm very confused. She asked me to come over and check it out, something I don't have to be asked twice to do when it involves pizza. When I got closer to it, I could smell it ... I could smell the very familiar scent of what I never thought would be hanging out in my house.

Sure enough, there in front of me, was a genuine Italian Delite pizza. The molten cheese, the delicious scalding sauce, the wafer thin crust ... It was absolutely perfect.

I'll let Amanda tell the specifics of how she pulled it off. Suffice it to say that she's incredible and organized a Herculean effort to get this thing out here.

And I officially went ape-shit over it.

As I'm freaking out and still flabbergasted that I'm eating an Italian Delite pizza on my birthday again, Amanda then proceeds to give me my birthday present of a Sirius Satellite Radio, which I then proceeded to completely refreak out over as well.

So, now thoroughly astonished and feeling very sufficiently birthdayed up, we went out, picked up Defending Your Life, and spent the rest of the night curled up together watching it.

It was a great birthday and I can't express enough how lucky I am to have such a caring woman in my life as Amanda.

Thank you, Manda. You really made me feel special. Thanks for giving me such an incredible birthday.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

quick update ... more later

Toly holy moly ...

Amanda's Birthday Extravagamza came off without a hitch (yes, -agamza. I'm going with it).

Three words, world:


Italian Delite pizza in freakin' San Mateo, CA!!!!

I'll write more later. Just know that 1.) Amanda rox, 2.) her plan worked perfectly, and 3.) she seriously rox.

Thank you, Rooni. I love you and I love my gifts. This has been a terrific birthday so far.

Now! Off to go rent a movie and then curl up for the rest of the evening with my incredibly thoughtful girlfriend.

More later.

29 going on .... 29 and five hours or so

Wow. What a difference a year makes.

Today's my birthday and I've been getting calls, emails, and "Happy Birthday, Man"s shouted at me in the halls all day. As I was technically born somewhere around noon thirty on the East Coast, I'm now about 29 and five hours old. It feels odd to think of your age in terms of hours. I found some horrible-looking online calculator and, according to it, I'm the following:

- 254,208 hours old
- 15,252,480 minutes old

What I find funniest about that webpage, though, is the text at the top that says "Know your AGE." If you're looking at www.maths.hscripts.com to find out your age, you have much more serious issues than how many minutes old you are.

Anyway, I say "what a difference a year makes" because last year (and the year before that) were pretty low-key birthdays. Amanda has consistently been incredibly sweet about my birthdays. She always has something planned and always makes me feel very special.

My family, on the other hand, forgot to call me two years in a row on my birthday. Today, though, I heard from them all; so, all's forgiven.

I'm anxious to get home and see what Amanda has up her sleeve. She's been teasing me for about a week now by dancing around the apartment singing "I can't wait until your birthday!" It's been cute; but now it's my birthday and I really just want the suspense to be over. : )

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

kisses goodbye

Sad story today.

There's a Star Wars fan organization known as the Fighting 501st. If ever you see a group of Stormtroopers out in the world doing something ... stormtroopery ... chances are that it's members of the 501st. They're essentially a great worldwide organization of fans whose main focus is on costuming and prop recreation (particularly if it involves The Empire) for the purposes of fundraising, charities, etc.

Anyway, the founder of the 501st, a man named Albin Johnson, found out a about a year ago that his seven year old daughter was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. This sparked the formation of the Kisses for Katie organization.

Well, I'm sad to say that Katie passed away yesterday. If anyone is interested in donating to her family or the Make-A-Wish Foundation, you can do so here.

Seven is too young. It's just not right. My heartfelt condolences to all of the Johnson family.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

harlin's hair tonic

Most people know Ockham's Razor, most succinctly summed up as "the simplest explanation is usually the best." Apparently throughout history, there have been many people who have attempted to create anti-razors. None have been very successful as far as PR campaigns for their anti-razors have gone because no one really knows them.

The reason I bring this up is that I found myself thinking this morning of how I seem to live by my own anti-razor, though I didn't have a very good name for it (as evidenced by the title of this post). For me, "whatever is the scariest, most horrifying possibility is probably the one that's occurring at that moment, whether that's actually true or not." That's what I seem to believe.

Take this morning for instance:

Thursday is my 29th birthday. I've started to look in the mirror and think "is this it for me? is the boulder of Age just going to start rolling down hill from here?" I see people my own age around me at work who are going gray or getting wrinkles. I've been losing my hair for years, though it seems to have plateaued of late.

Anyway, this morning I was brushing my teeth. I leaned over the sink to spit out my mouthful of toothpaste and I stopped dead in my tracks.

There, right next to my ear, was a big white hair.

Now, I don't know why it happens, but hopefully I'm not the only mutant on Earth who occasionally finds some sort of crazy, over-achieving hair that seems to be about 3 times longer than any other hair on my head/arm/whatever. Anyway, I stared at it and thought "Holy Crap ... here I am, two days left of being 28 and I've already started to have my hair go white ... And look at that thing! It really worked over time last night!!"

Frowning, I reached out a scared finger to poke at it. Instantly, it fell off of my head and I realized I simply had a piece of cat hair stuck to me.

Whatever is the scariest, most horrifying possibility is probably the one that's occurring at that moment, whether that's actually true or not.

Monday, August 08, 2005

down and grout

Update on the tile work from the weekend. As [sorta'] promised, here are some pictures courtesy of Amanda's mom.

First up, the action shot. Here we are working away on the grout. That's me scrubbing tile with a fronge (as my sister used to call sponges when she was 3) while Amanda (the other pair of feet in the picture) grouts the tile.


Next up, the finished tile. Not too shabby.


And finally, for some atmosphere, here's the film noir tile shot.


oh. em. gee.

This weekend, Amanda and I did some home improvement work.

See, our new apartment has what the Craigslist ad called "bonus rooms." Apparently, "bonus room" means "enclosed patio with disgusting carpet on the floor". The upstairs bonus room is covered in astroturf. Though we initially thought that it was hideous and had to change, it turns out that our cat loves it and scratches on it day in and day out. So, since she loves it and it seems to keep her from scratching up our furniture, the astroturf gets to stay.

The downstairs bonus room, on the other hand, had this hideous rust-colored (rust-coloured for my British readers) carpet lining it and was, oddly, the only room in the house with carpet. In a house of all hardwood floors, who carpets the patio?

Anyway, one of Amanda's requests when we moved in was to do something else with the carpet. So, this weekend with the guidance of Amanda's parents, we tiled the downstairs bonus room.

And, goddamn if today I ain't sorer than a badger with a wasp nest in his behind. After spending two days crawling around on our hands and knees laying tile and grouting it, we're every kind of stiff, sore, and achey known to Man.

Now Amanda and I have been walking around our apartment like Balki and Cousin Larry after working out too much to impress the upstairs flight attendants.

The bonus room does look great, though. It looks like a room you want to use now instead of something you wish wasn't attached to the house. I'm happy with it, and as Amanda said, whenever we have our house-warming party for this place, we've got some serious bragging rights now.

Friday, August 05, 2005

heaven in a roll

Tonight I'm apparently accompanying Amanda to watch two friends try to kill themselves with cheesesteaks. They're calling it The Cheesesteak Challenge and it basically just involves each one trying to finish off a 15" cheesesteak from the greatest little sandwich shop on the West Coast.

Personally, I'm in the mood for a pizza steak tonight. And maybe some Tastykakes.

Man oh man, those things are good. Then it's back to the apartment to move boxes, for tomorrow ... we tile the floor.

Did that sound ominous? I was going for "biblically foreboding." Not sure if I reached it.

Is "biblically" even a word?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

a show of thanks

Today, those of us who worked on Republic Commando received an extremely nice team gift.

You can check it out here.

Now the lads from Delta Squad are sitting on my desk watching over me.

Something about all of the action figures in my childhood has made it so that Star Wars is a very tactile experience for me. Characters, vehicles, etc. don't quite seem "real" until I can reach out and touch them.

Today they're real. Too bad it looks like Boss' thumb got shot off in transit to San Francisco.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

only enough time for 16 words

busy busy busy today.

If you haven't ever checked out Samorost, you should. It's very cool.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Welcome to Chumpville, Population: Sean Astin

Last night, Amanda and I were playing Scrabble (no comments, please; we enjoy it). As we were playing in the living room, we decided to turn on something as background noise. Ultimately, we decided to watch something off of Comcast's On Demand service.

Now, if you've never used On Demand, it's basically a storehouse of free movies and TV shows you can watch whenever you want, along with all of the pay-per-view stuff you can order. As far as free movies go, there are essentially two different kinds.

The first kind are the movies offered for free from the subscription movie channels like HBO, et al. You only get these if you subscribe to that channel (which we do) and they're pretty good. There's some stuff I wanted to see but never did, some old favorites, etc. Some good stuff.

The other kind are the free movies offered to Comcast because they either 1.) lost a bet, or 2.) found them abandoned in a box on their doorstep. Maybe both. Anyway, this is the dumping ground for all the crappy films on Earth.

If you ever wanted immediate, on-demand access to movies like Caveman or The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, this is your one stop shop.

Anyway, we poked around in the Forbidden Zone there for a bit, and lo and behold, what should pop up in the menu but Rudy.

As I've explained before, Rudy is this film my brother has a strong affection for. After yakking about it here, Amanda wanted to watch it to see what the deal with it was.

So, we watched it. I have to admit, this was the first time I've seen it all the way through. (Ry, I'll bet you thought I was going to say "I have to admit, I liked it" or something like that. Not so.)

My feelings about it are exactly the same as they've always been. The central theme of the movie is "If you dream big enough and long enough, enough people will take pity on you to get you close to your dream, even if it's not exactly what you thought it would be."

Here's the short version of the movie for those who haven't seen it:

Little kid named Rudy wants to play football for Notre Dame but he sucks. His brothers don't want to play with him. He only has one friend.

They grow up and go to work in a steel mill. No one believes in him. He wants to play football for Notre Dame. He only has one friend. His friend dies.

He goes to Notre Dame and bothers an old priest. The priest takes pity on him and gets him admitted to a Community College next door.

He's lame and no one wants to play with him. He only has one friend. He wants to play football for Notre Dame. He bitches about it to everyone he knows.

Soon Groundskeeper Whomever, John Favreau, and every other character within a five mile radius is taking pity on this guy. He gets into Notre Dame. Coaches take pity on him. Players take pity on him. He plays for 1 minute in a football game.

The end.

Wow. Fascinating. What a heart-warming tale about a guy who's life reaches it's peak at the age of 27 or so. Incredible.

Please, don't make a sequel, Hollywood. I couldn't take 2 hours of Rudy telling everyone he meets about how he played for Notre Dame for one minute in 1970whocares.

Monday, August 01, 2005

flame on!

Right now, living in San Francisco rules.

While the rest of the country is melting, the Bay Area remains a cool and pleasant 70 degrees.

Amanda and I went to a wedding reception down in LA this weekend. On the way down, it was 106 degrees. That was pretty freakin' awful. On our way back, we had to drive through the long ugly part of California amidst temperatures that reached 109 degrees. I don't know what it was about those last three degrees, but 109 compared to 106 is pretty really freakin' very awful.

When we finally got back to San Fran, it was 69.

40 freakin' degrees! Seriously, compared to the rest of the States, it's like we live in some kind of majestic garden of Eden complete with Popsicle Trees and streets paved with Slip 'N Slides.

The rest of the country should come out here for a visit. That is, if walking out your door won't cause you to instantly combust.