Tuesday, January 31, 2006

post-nasal drag

I'm getting sick. Today is one of those days where you can feel yourself deteriorating over the course of the day. I've been sneezing like crazy, coughing for weeks, and now I've got the post-nasal trip hat-trick to go along with everything. Sucks. If I didn't have a meeting in an hour I'd go home right now. As it is, I think I'm leaving after that meeting today.

Bleh. I hate being sick.

Monday, January 30, 2006

mad props to the tunesmiths

Songwriting is a tough art, and one that isn't often given very much credit. Sure, there are people like Rufus Wainwright, Joni Mitchell, or Bob Dylan who often get credit for their songwriting; but usually it's due to the depth of their lyrical content.

And yet, there are some songwriters out there who - although they probably wouldn't like to admit it - write fluff when it comes to lyrics, and yet are absolutely rock solid with their songwriting skills.

Chief among them has to be Rivers Cuomo, frontman and songwriter for Weezer. This dude is incredible when it comes to writing a memorable song. The lyrics are totally disposable and are often simply a multisyllablic means for delivering the melody. But, holy hell, what melodies ...

There are few people who can write a melody that makes me addictively need to listen to it 8 or 9 times in a row. Mozart, Irving Berlin, Gershwin, John Williams, Michael Jackson ... that's the caliber of melody we're talking about. Something that worms its way into your brain on first listen and starts to replicate. Your normal thoughts and your internal monologue are soon dodging between notes of a tune that refuses to leave you alone and the only cure is to listen to the song again, which unfortunately merely continues the cycle.

There's something quasi-Sado/Masochistic about it, to be honest. But, damn if I don't enjoy torturing myself with a good melody. Truth be told, I'm extremely envious of composers and songwriters with that ability. Take a listen to Weezer's "Perfect Situation" to see the kind of thing I'm talking about. I couldn't tell you a single lyric in that song, and yet I've listened to it about 5 times already this morning just on the strength of the tune alone. It's really an exceptional melody.

Friday, January 27, 2006

i sense an ugly trend

Don't get me wrong; I love Apple. However, I have to take issue with a weird trend in Hyper-Disposable technology that Apple seems to have started and other companies are now following suit with.

I think it all began with the iMac. When Mac released their first iMac, the general trend in personal computing was to simply update the processing and RAM capabilities ever year or so and a family of computer typically looked the same. However, the iMac added into the mix the concept of personal style. First came the blue and white iMac in April of '98. 7 months later came the Lifesaver-colored iMacs. Then came iMac Rev D only 3 months later which was a processing power up-grade. Then 6 months later came the Blueberry iMac. 8 months later came the Indigo- and Ruby-colored iMacs. Then Graphite and White iMacs. Then this monstrosity. Anyway, you get the point.

The consuming public was constantly being presented with new options every couple of months making lots of people who had already bought an iMac think "Damn it! Why didn't they have that color when I bought one?! That one so matches my drapes/shoes/dog/whatever." Anyway, I guess it was a successful approach for Apple because they then did the same thing with the iPod.

iPod, iPod Mini, iPod Nano, iPod Video, etc. You see where I'm going with this. Anyone who buys an Apple product has to worry throughout the next 6 months to see if Apple will suddenly announce the iPod [insert your own name] edition which would have been so perfect, if they hadn't just bought the green one with less storage space.

Anyway, it's kinda' lame. But, just as Apple became the trend setter that changed all computer peripherals from beige to Lifesaver colors, then changed portable music accessories to all match the iPod, they also seem to have their followers in the hyper-disposable tech sector.

Nintendo is the chief one among them. For years, the Gameboy was the standard of handheld gaming. Then after all of the Apple stuff went down, the market got hit with a quick succession of 5 different Gameboy incarnations in about 2 years. There was the original GBA, then the flip-top GBA, then the retro "it looks like the old NES" GBA, then came the DS, and then the GBA Micro (just like the iPod Nano).

So, what makes me bring all of this up? Nintendo announced today the DS Lite. Besides just needlessly creating another version of their existing products, Nintendo also continues their practice of copying Apple's design sense and have restyled the DS to look a helluva lot like an iPod.

[antiNintendogripe]I'm so done with Nintendo. They continue to make bizarre choices when it comes to console hardware development, have all but admitted that they haven't had any good ideas since the original NES, and seem to jump at the chance to ride the Apple Design bandwagon rather than innovate in smart ways, as opposed to innovating in retahded ways like they seem to so frequently attempt.[/antiNintendogripe]

So, yeah. The moral of the story is: Nintendo is lame and hyper-disposable technology annoys me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Andy Milonakis is not allowed to read this

I was typing up some feedback today for a co-worked (it's Review Time everybody!) and was trying to write the phrase "despite the crunched time schedule." Instead, I typoed it as "despite the crunked time schedule." This made me laugh and I thought how funny inadvertent Hip Hop was. That then made me laugh and think that "Inadvertent Hip Hop" was a funny title and I should do something with it.

However, the more I thought about it, the more it seems like some sort of lame Performance Art piece where someone like Tom Green would run around the street with a microphone trying to get old people to say something hip-hoppish (hip-hoppy?). So, I retract my "good idea" label and instead label it as "verboten."

By the way, I was surprised to find while writing this that it's much easier to find a site dedicated to Verboten than to Tom Green. None of his fan sites seem to be functional links anymore. Verboten, on the other hand, is apparently a reference to everything from a movie from the 50s to The Church of true Israel, to a German religious site whose summary in Google reads "Warning: Do not click on this link; it is forbidden."

How can you not click that link after you see that? Those wacky Germans ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

goodbye, 1997. hello, 2001.

Well, I finally did it. Throwing caution to the wind, I jumped head-first into 5 years in the past and finally have OS X running on my Mac at home. I have to say, I'm loving it. I have a used G4 that I just configured to run everything, after installing a DVD drive and reformatting the harddrive.

Now the only problem is that I don't have any applications for it. I spent a few minutes dragging and selecting items on my desktop with the new Wacom tablet I bought, but that's about it. Oh, and I downloaded some Widgets. Most unique of them for me has to be the SMPTE calculator widget. Good stuff.

So, now I just need to get Photoshop, Office, Flash, Logic, and maybe the most recent Myst game. I'm also really excited because the installation of OS X Tiger now means that I can finally use the iPod Amanda and her parents got me for Xmas. I can't wait to download videos for it. I can't wait to try and put together a little collection of my favorite music videos. So far I know I want to snag Weapon of Choice, Bedtime Stories, Free As A Bird, and some Bjork stuff. I haven't watched those videos in a long time and they've stuck in my mind since I saw them. Can't wait to try and find them again.

Anyway, that's my big new news. Bignoonoos? Bignunus? Sure, bignunus. Why not.

Monday, January 23, 2006

some Monday toxic gumbo

Lots of random stuff today, I guess. Nothing that's all that interesting, though, I suppose.

I totally love Sirius satellite radio. This weekend I was driving around listening to the music stations and found three stations that are bananas, B-AN-AN-AS. One's a modern rock station, one's a classic rock from the 80s and 90s station, and the other is called Hair Nation and is basically the soundtrack of 6th through 8th grade for me. The only problem is that they so frequently all play good music at the same time. So, unlike regular radio where I have to search hard to find something I don't mind settling on, I had to choose for instance at one point between a new Beck tune, "One Night Love Affair" by Bryan Adams, and "Wanted Man" by Ratt. That is a tough choice.

I got an email today out of the blue from an old friend from High School, Otto Lai. Haven't talked to him in years and years and he found me through myspace. Otto's a great guy and an extremely gifted cartoonist. The inside cover of my senior year book has a message from him that says "When your brother or sister have kids, they can call you 'Uncle Jesse.' Yee-haw!" and is followed by a cartoon of two dogs doing the nasty. You know how there are people from high school that you forget ever existed and then other people that you think about regularly and wonder what they're up to? Otto falls into the latter category, so I'm glad I heard from him. As best as I can gather, he's now a digital artist living in NYC, so good for him.

I finished reading The Divinci Code last night. I'm torn about it. I loved the plot and I loved the proposed historical revelations contained within it. I just didn't like the characters. So, I dunno. I don't want to ruin the book for anyone who hasn't read it and wants to; but I will say that if what it says is true, I wouldn't be surprised in the least.

Um ... what else? My cat had a nightmare on Friday night. Skeleton Key is a disappointing movie. Band of Brothers, on the other hand, rocks like a hurricane. Oh, and Resident Evil 4 is lame. If anyone is looking for a good zombie game, don't get Resident Evil 4. Some of my complaints about it might be ultra-picky game designer gripes, but I really just am not enjoying it.

Games are progressing constantly in terms of what they allow the player to do. More and more frequently, gamers are finding that their imaginations will lead to puzzle and problem solving solutions that are creative and non-linear approaches to the problem, and that the game designers have allowed for it. It makes for a great game experience. God of War is full of those kinds of moments. Moments whereby you think "I wonder if I can do [blah]?" and sure enough you can, which makes you feel like a badass.

But, Resident Evil 4 just keeps frustrating me. Let me paint the scene: I'm a government agent [voiced by a terrible voice actor] who has been sent to Genericsberg, Europe to rescue the kidnapped daughter of the US President. For whatever reason, I stumble across a village of angry villagers who want to kill me for no reason. Anyway, when you enter the Village of A-holes, the entire town turns out to kill you. So, I'm standing there looking for a way out the situation and it occurs to me "Oh, snap! There's a two-story building there! I know! I'll dash inside, run up the stairs, and then use the stairs to bottle neck the A-holes and kill them one by one as they try to come up the stairs!"

It was a perfect plan. So, I head into town and sure enough, the townsfolk start to advance in a murderous rampage. I make a mad dash into the two-story building, snake my way through the living room, around a corner, through the dining room towards the stairs only to discover: there are no stairs upstairs. The stupid two-story building doesn't have any way up to the second floor. So, instead, I find myself trapped in the bottom floor of this house with Zombie-Villagers smashing their way through the windows and doors like it's the freakin' "Thriller" video.

Anyway, things like that really annoy me in games. I guess I've rambled long enough. Seacrest, out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

sometimes I forget where I work

And then there are other times where I randomly pass George Lucas in the hallways. Today was one of those times.

Monday, January 16, 2006

the congressional time-out chair

Manda and I were listening to NPR this morning as she dropped me off at work (my car's in the shop getting a tune-up) and the topic of discussion was the "culture of corruption" amongst the Republican ranks and what, if any, sweeping reforms might be enacted as a result of so many hands getting caught in the proverbial cookie jar.

And I have to say, I'm shocked if anyone in the world actually thinks that there will be some kind of massive reform from this whole Abramoff debacle if the Congress is left to police themselves. These aren't 7 year-olds who are still learning Right from Wrong. They knew what they did was illegal, and they knew that it was going on. It makes me want to vomit any time I hear a congressman say "Well, if these allegations are true, I'll be shocked and surely we should push for reforms." Bullshit. I mean, honestly, here's a quote from Rep. John Culbertson (R) from Houston, Texas:

"I've never encountered any member of Congress who appeared to me to be engaging in unethical or illegal conduct."

Can we, as a people, line up and take turns peeing on this a-hole from the balcony of the Senate Chamber?

Anyway, I get disgusted just thinking about all of this crap. Our government is so broken right now. I have no idea how it can be fixed. What makes me saddest of all is the realization that such a small portion of the country even seems to care. It's the pervasive apathy that allows these elected Tools to fuck with our money, fuck with our liberties, and fuck with the world like it's a plaything for their moral pulpits.

Bah. I have to stop. I'm just getting more and more angry the more I think about it. Suffice it to say, 1.) I'm not surprised by any of it, and 2.) I don't expect anything to change.

I mean, seriously, multiple state constitutions require that a bill pertain to only one subject. Why isn't this applicable to our federal government? Why is the legislature at the federal level even allowed to tack on Alaskan Drilling into a Pentagon Budget bill? It's ludicrous.

Assholes, the lot of them. Has integrity ever existed in politics?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

earth science lesson for the day

Pardon me, Mr. Godwin, while I step in and tackle today's Earth Science lesson. Today, we're going to learn about The Atmosphere. The atmosphere is a big layered ball of gases that surrounds the Earth. What separates one layer from another is how they're defined in terms of their temperature, the gases present, as well as their electric properties.

Now, the layers of the Earth's atmosphere are as follow, going from closest to the Earth to furthest out into space:

- Troposphere
- Stratosphere
- Mesosphere
- PainInTheAssosphere
- Thermosphere
- Exosphere

Today, we'll be focusing on the PainInTheAssosphere. Situated between the Mesophere and the Thermosphere, the PainInTheAssosphere is the magical, mystical boundary within which cell phone calls get stuck.

See, cellphone calls - just like light - apparently also act like a wave and a particle. They're a wave because they're a wave and they're a particle because they apparently get stuck to the PainInTheAssosphere like some sort of freaky Earth Science velco.

Then end result is that, after having had your phone turned on for weeks, old Voice Mail messages that people left for you weeks ago will show up out of no where many weeks late. This happens when your cell phone Voice Mail messages get stuck to the PainInTheAssosphere. They can then only be dislodged by the act of Angels bowling, which also creates thunder and then you get your voice mail.

This is the best explanation anyone has for why the hell I'd get a three week old Voice Mail message from Amanda this morning, or why - days after I got back from visiting PA - I had a backlog of messages that pertained to my trip suddenly arrive about a week and a half too late.

And that is the wonder of the PainInTheAssosphere. You may begin polishing my Nobel Prize for Science.

Oh, and just for the hell of it, here's the website of everyone's favorite chemistry teacher: Don Sloat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

first of a new dying breed?

Okay. Ignore my stupid title for this entry. I had know idea what to call it. Anyway, I've been listening to the new Howard Stern show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Good stuff. It's strange; I had this weird feeling that it would feel just as though his show on terrestrial radio had simply resumed. But, it doesn't.

The sound quality is different. Something about the EQ on their mikes makes it very different. An, on top of that, there's just a whole different vibe to it. Having to pay for the service made me feel as though I was in some sort of club. It's a little hard to explain, but it was as if I had gained access to the Stern Clubhouse. It's still weird to hear cursing on the radio. It shouldn't be weird. I curse all of the time with everyone I know in normal conversational English, dammit. But we've been so conditioned to think of a handful of words as off limits to our airwaves that I still feel like a kid at the back of the school bus giggling about words like "scrotum" and "assmunch" everytime they curse on Sirius.

I also feel like I'm listening to technology that's in its infancy. The reception on Satellite radio isn't what I thought it would be. Go under an overpass? Lost reception. Drive near the ocean(!?)? Lost reception. I don't know. It's odd. I like having it. I love conceptually that it's a place for commercial-free, censorship-free radio; but in practice, I still hear commercials and it seems like they have a little ways to go on the reception issue.

But, all of that said, I don't feel unhappy with it. Like I said, it's like hearing it in its infancy and I'm okay with that. I know that it's going to grow and improve. I know I'll be telling my grandkids one day "You know, your old Granddad had Satellite Radio back on Earth when it had just been invented. Back then, it went in our 'cars' and the mutant genetically modified fruit hadn't yet forced everyone to evacuate to the Moon."

Yeah, it'll be a grand future ...

Monday, January 09, 2006

hahaha for sale?

The end of the previous year means the beginning of 2005 video game awards. As such, I'm trying to get together a bunch of things to submit through the industry for our various titles.

So, I'm making music medleys and trying to video capture and edit ... video. Blah blah blah. Fun times.

I bought my very own Munny on the way home from work on Friday. Now I just have to figure out how to customize it. That's going to mean looking online for paint recommendations, sculpting material recommendations, etc. It should be fun, though. I'm looking forward to it.

Anyway, thought I'd leave you with this today. It's an eBay auction I found. Please let me know if you can figure out what it's for. I'm at a bit of a loss.

Friday, January 06, 2006

so munny and they don't even know it

I'm a happy little camper today. Last night, I discovered Munny.

A bit of background before I get to what Munny is: I love action figures - grew up with them, still buy them from time to time. I was telling Amanda the other night that action figures have this special kind of magic for me by which they turn fictional characters into something tangible. There's a special tactile transformation that occurs for me when I can touch the vinyl surface of something that captured my imagination on the Big Screen, the pages of a comic book, or a novel.

So "I dig action figures" is my point. The next logical step to me was to always want an action figure of myself. When I was in college - and I wish I could remember the origins behind why - I created two custom Jesse Harlin action figures out of customized and repainted Star Wars figures. They were funny enough. I had fun customizing them. Good times. Apparently those action figures were taken around by my friends while I was over in England and I was able to still hang out with them in some small capacity.

Anyway, enter Munny. Munny is a vinyl toy whose entire purpose is customization. Munny (like other custom toys such as Dunny, Stikfas, and Qeester) was designed with the notion that its blank features would have endless possibilities for customization and redesign. I'm totally enthralled.

Just to give you a sense of what a blank Munny looks like, check out this pic. Now, to see some cool customizations, take a look here. By the way, for Shepard Fairey fans, there's a Dunny here that he customized with his signature OBEY iconography. Just scroll down most of the way to the bottom to Dunny No. 41.

Very creative stuff. I'm picking one up on the way home from work and I'm gonna start designing Munny Harlin. Sometimes it shocks me just exactly how many new ways I can find to be a nerd.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

ho-ho-hone your puzzle skillz

Attention GROW fans, there's a small new GROW available for Christmas.

"But, it's already January 5th, Asshat," I hear you say.

Well, I didn't find it until today.

Cripes. You're so unappreciative.

Monday, January 02, 2006

five things I learned on Winter Vacation

This was a nice vacation. Spent lots of time with various parts of my family and Amanda's family. There were a lot of things learned as well, so I thought I'd list them here.

1. Much like the weather, Family is extremely unpredictable. Whether it's who they choose to date or what they think you "need" as a Christmas gift, there's just about no way to predict the full reactions and life paths of your family. There was no snow so there was no White Christmas; but on the bright side other hand, there was a $100 gift card for coffee to someone who doesn't drink coffee and an insulting Christmas ornament that referenced a very painful period in someone's life. Whee.

2. There's nothing in Alabama that you need to see before you die. For Christmas, my mom gave Amanda a book called 1000 Places To See Before You Die. Nothing in Alabama made the list, apparently. Though, surprisingly, Amanda and I have already been to a number of the places that did make the grade.

3. Peter Jackson should have either made King Kong or Jurassic Park IV: Dinosaurs Hate Monkeys, but not both. I second the sentiment I heard from someone (second-hand) at ILM when they said, "King Kong is the best 2 hour movie I've seen in a long time. The problem is, it's 3 hours long." Question: how do you manage to remake an hour and a half movie so that it's twice a long as the original? Answer: insert an hour long Dinosaur Parade and any other idea you have knocking around in your head into it. A warning to you, Peter Jackson: my bladder will punch you in the face on sight.

4. The cost of real estate in the San Francisco Bay area is criminal. It's something I've known for a while; but it was further drive home by a trip to Virginia over break. Oddly, nice houses there are also about $350,000 just as they are in Pennsylvania. In San Francisco, $350,000 either buys you a small house an hour and a half outside of any of the Bay Area zip codes or it buys you a crappy 1-bedroom apartment that your landlord will creatively rename a "condo" just to make sure you don't totally feel like you just took it up the pooper.

5. I don't pack enough clothes when I go on vacation. I thought as I was packing, just like I always do, "Eh ... whatever. I'm a guy. I don't need to pack much. Just pack half as much clothing as you need to wear and then recycle stuff. Genius." Here's the flaw with that plan: I only packed half of the clothes I needed. And it wasn't like I set out all of the clothes I would wear and then divided everything evenly in half. Nope. I packed plenty of undies and socks; but when it came to shirts and pants, that seems to be where I made most of my selective wardrobe editing. If anyone sees pictures of me from this vacation, they might think it took place over two days because I'm wearing one of either two outfits in every picture.

Anyway, that's my five things I learned. I'm really looking forward to 2006. Hope it's going to be a good year with lots of new opportunities and successes. Time to run; its time to go eat some yummy New Year tacos.