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PAX Day 2

We started out with a live demo of Assassin's Creed. Which is basically GTA in 1000 A.D. It looks amazing and a ton of fun.

I got pwned in Tetris this year. It was more of an informal system where any one with a DS could call you out on the spot. Most people didn't want to play with items on, which is where I shine, as I think I get less confounded by the sudden disruptions then most Tetris people. On the bright side, I did finally finish marathon lvl 20/200 lines while waiting in line, so that gave me some confidence back.

J and I sullied our hands with a 360 remote to give coop Gears of War a chance. And while the graphics were undoubtedly beautiful, we were ultimately underwhelmed by the gameplay.

The expo hall was filled chiefly with MMORPGs that I could care less about. However, Nintendo had a Wii booth this year, and our 3 minutes of playing Super Mario Strikers was undoubtedly some of the rawest fun I had at the event.

Preceding the concert was the 4th round of the Omegathon, which ended up being 2 groups of 4 having to play Rock Band in front of an audience of thousands. The transformation was palpable. The juxtaposition of game and performance, of being able to do something entertaining with only a couple hours of practice, had me imagining small bars having "Rock Band" nights, where friends can get together and get the Garage Band experience without all the second jobs to buy a guitar.

Jonathan Coulton's concert which followed was as much fun as I've had at any concert *evar*. It rivals even the best They Might Be Giants concerts I've attended, a qualification I don't use lightly. If only for getting to pretend to be a zombie.

PAX Day 1.1

Just a quick story I couldn't find a way to squeeze into the last post...

During one of the panels, Uwe Boll, the producer of infamously poor video game movies was brought on stage.

We, the crowd, had presumed he had shown up to defend his cinematic crimes against us.

He, on the other hand, thought he was there to defend his new film Postal, as it's been subject to quite a bit of ridicule from certain demographics.

This conflict of assumptions came to a stark meeting when Uwe Boll decided that a clip of the movie would assuredly calm us down. And so launched into, with no discernible warning, what amounted to a comedy sketch involving two of the 9/11 hijackers debating the exact number of virgins they'll be receiving.

Piecing the dialog together afterwards, it was actually kind of a funny scene.

But in practice, suddenly watching a video of two Muslim men in such an infamous cockpit amounted to the equivalent of an unexpected mule kick to the head. I looked from side to side, greeted by the similarly horrified faces of those around me. Surely this wasn't reality? Why am I watching something about 9/11 at PAX? WTF doesn't do it justice.

The 9/11 scene was then followed by similarly macabre scenes involving a shooting at a government building, and a man facing down both terrorists and the klu klux klan.

After the scenes were done, Jason and I regained our free will, and made for the door, but not before some irate nerd girl grabbed a mic and began cussing out Uwe for "All that racist sh*t".

Now ,maybe he honestly has no idea the contempt gamers hold for his movies, and I can't exactly see that it would be a PAX administrator's job to break that specific news to him.

Perhaps he presumed we had all played so much Postal 10 years ago that we required no introduction to his rich and varied satiric mythos?

Or maybe he's just really bad at his job...

$[=1; PAX Day 1

So Jason and I got in a literary debate while we stumbled home from the bar. Jason was saying that he didn't care for Vonnegut, as he can't stand how pessimistic his stories are.

I was too drunk to bother constructing the numerous reasons why I think Vonnegut's humanistic message is ultimately an uplifting one of hope. Instead I probably slurred out something like "well whatcho like ta read then?".

Voltaire's Candide was his answer. Which made me chuckle as that's a favorite of mine as well. And I then drunkenly sang "The best of all possible worlds" in the impolitely way which the terribly inebriated seem to favor.

It was then with great delight that, as we were searching for breakfast this morning, I came upon the sign above.

After breakfast we hoped a bus to Redmond to get a tour of Nintendo's US headquarters.

The bus trip itself was very perdy.

We met up with Kelly from the night before who showed us around.

Jason bought a Nintendo DS, thereby being the very last of the 40,000 PAX attendees to own one.

The lineup to enter PAX was staggering. It filled two football field sized rooms. And there were so many Nintendo DS' present that it absolutely saturated the wireless channels to the point of uselessness. We spent 3 or so hours sitting on cement playing DS to pass the time.

Wil Wheaton delivered the key note which was entertaining, yet nearly as guilty of applause pandering as a State of the Union address.

Gabe and Tycho than took the stage, and god damn are those kids rock stars. I'm always amazed by how their "no prep" Q and A sessions turn out so amazing. The show stealer was Tycho agreeing to a request for him to perform na impromptu, acapella rendition of his ballad recounting the loss of one of his D&D characters.

Tycho, the bald one pictured here just doesn't look like the singing type, let alone capable of belting a heart-felt song infront of an audience. But he sure as hell did. And the resulting swaying mass of people holding their DS's and cell phones aloft was the sort of ironic, but completely sincere statement of appreciation, that is pretty hard to squeeze out of a group of 20 to 30 years olds these days.

I later caught up with him to confront him about the unacceptable presence of a "Booth Babe" in the Expo hall.

While standard practice at E3, the concept of paying a model to pretend she's not completely weirded out pretending to be a 2d digital sex object in no way celebrates the idea of games. In fact, if you're resorting to boobs at PAX, your game is very likely terrible.

Near the end of the night, a debate between Jason and I raged on. I wanted to goto a crazy sounding benefit which we were invited to by Elyssa's sister.

It literally was:
"Goto a party with people juggling fire and Burlesque Girls"
vs
"Go see if we can play a board game for 3 hours with some strangers at PAX".

I, always one to revel in situations which I do not belong, desperately wanted to goto the benefit and blog about how out of place I felt. Jason, however, remained adamant. Saying that the entire point of PAX was to not feeling alienated.

He was right, of course, and so we played a 3 hour long board game with some very nice people, and we laughed and felt comfortable in a way flame illuminated nipples would have never allowed.

PAX Day 0

Jason and I flew out to Seattle yesterday in preparation for attending PAX

We flew Sun Country, and I was a little startled by how non-suicidal the employees there tended to be. When I fly Northwest, at least I get the satisfaction of knowing that my bothering them with trivialities generates a rage in them which will assuredly keep them alive for just one more day.

But not with Sun Country, they dote on you, give you as much drink and food you like (I was honestly offered seconds). Truly bizarre stuff.

Jason and I then got introduced to the town's beer making abilities, and rose to the challenge.

Sorry about the crappy pics, as I'm only armed with a camera phone.

The one where I blog about how maybe blogging is bad.

I watched American Hardcore recently, which is a nostalgic documentary of the early 80's punk scene.

Several times, they show cops trying to shut down shows, and the punks responding by punching the cops in the face.

I then asked myself "Is there anything I believe in enough to punch a cop in the face?"

"Nope." I responded.

"Is that a good thing?"

"Probably", I sighed, "Punching a cop in the face rarely ends well."

"I still feel like there is something that should get me that riled up."

"Maybe you should play Super Paper Mario instead of thinking about this any further."

"Do you think maybe the fact that they felt they had no other way of expressing their rage at the state of the world, that when the authorities tried to take their very last method of expression away that they just felt backed into a corner, with no other recourse?"

"I don't know or care... why don't you go write a blog about it or something?"

"But what if a blog is like... the safety release valve on a boiler. Just enough of a release to keep the boiler useful and trouble-free."

"I can't believe you're still obsessing about this. But if it makes you feel any better, I'm pretty sure that punching a cop affects an equal amount of change in the world than your boring rambling political bloggings."

"It doesn't."

Not that it's any of your business. =)

Now, I know you can't trust everything you read on the Internet (sic to the sic for not making it ironically plural), but I just read about a crazy thing that nearly all mammals can do.

I read up on it, because my wife claimed to have a person growing inside of her.

"Oh yeah, so how does it breath?", I asked.

"Umm, I'm not sure it has to," she replied, a little confused.

"So you've grown a little scuba tank as well then?"

"No, I think he gets all that via an umbilical cord."

"You mean like spaceships use when docked with space stations?"

"Sure."

"Cool... Wait a sec, did you say, "he"?"

"Yes, the ultrasound clearly showed a penis, they printed off a couple pictures for me."

"Firstly, I'm pretty sure that the person running the ultrasound committed a felony. Secondly, did the doctor person mention anything about you being considered a dude now, since, you technically *have* a penis on your person at the moment?"

She then left the room, and I started a stopwatch, since if she doesn't return and say something clever within 2 minutes, it counts as a forfeit.

By the soft sobbing coming from the bedroom afterwards, I think she may have taken the defeat kinda hard...

Good vs Good

My first thought last Wednesday, while I watched the scene playing on the muted TVs in the restaurant I was in, was "I hope it was terrorists".

I remember being struck at what an odd "hope" that was. In retrospect, "I hope nobody is hurt" seems more solid.

But, upon reflection, it's easy to see why that was my hope. There is an undeniable comfort in the belief that a source of your misery can be snuffed out in a few milliseconds by a screaming piece of rounded metal.

And, afterall, the only thing scarier than witnessing the handiwork of a group of people intent on blowing up bridges, is to have a bridge fall down all on it's own.

And that, right there, is when I had a thought.

The word "Evil" has been used quite a lot these days. My definition of "Evil" is "Inflicting unnecessary harm", and I happen to think that definition isn't all that controversial. I believe it is something strangers in a room could nod cordially over.

The sticky bit, I believe, is how people are defining "Good" (as in "to do Good").

(more)

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