Wednesday, July 26, 2006

got a pocket full of mpegs (and my homeboys do too)

D. D.'s got a theory about portable music players. The short version points out that the true genius of the iPod, from a marketing standpoint, was that it convinced people that:
a) it was a reasonable thing to do to make the iPod a person's primary music player;
and (thus) that:
b) it was a reasonable thing to do to put a person's entire music collection on that primary music player.

The first makes a ton of sense from Apple's perspective. I mean, the iPod prints money, particularly if you can con folks into collecting all the accessories that it needs to run through your house speakers. The second, a person pretty much has to buy into, if she's bought into the first...

Somewhat predictably, D. D.'s not buying it. His tactic was to score a small, cheap .mp3 player, just big enough to take the edge off of his latenight, backstreet bar-to-home commutes. Later, whatever it is he does for a living kicked him an iPod shuffle, which he later kicked on down to yours truly. After a lengthy struggle to get the little bastard talking to my local linux boxes...I gave up, and took it over to my pal Sam's house, to use his Mac. We gorged ourselves on wrestling: a surprisingly dynamite ECW, followed by the unsurprisingly awesome Samoa Joe dvd. In the interstices of this, I tried to throw some songs onto the shuffle, and finally met with some success!

Since Sam and I have relatively divergent tastes, I was somewhat hard-pressed to find stuff I truly dug on his mammoth hard drive. This is half-lucky, since it's got me actually thinking about what I might like to hear, about how I might like to structure the playlist that makes the machine go. (My first attempt, off of Canada's hard drive, was unbearably predictable: the total familiarity of 99 songs I'm thoroughly familiar with would inevitably have cloyed quickly, and probably made me abandon the device altogether.)

After these last couple days, I have a couple thoughts on how to use the critter.
i) Favorites that always hold up: the typical Neurosis/Voivod/Dylan tunes that I like to hear every day. (See the mix I scored off of Canada's hard drive.)
ii) Alternate playlists: think like a roster of mix tapes I can swap out when it seems appropriate or desirable. Like a Dylan mix, a bands-I-haven't-heard-yet mix, records-I've-forgotten mixes, guilty pleasures mixes, alla that.

It occurs to me to wonder how often D. D. actually changes up the roster of songs on his little machine. Confidential to D. D.: how often do you actually change up the roster of songs on yr little machine? --Or is it just the same 2 PWEI records and a couple Fetus albums?) Oh yeah: how was that Locust remix record? Any good at all?

Both of those thoughts on use are compromised by the savagely limited capacity of the shuffle, however. Most of my favorite bands are best enjoyed at album lengths: that's how their music makes most sense. But with a paltry 512 megs, you're looking at a mix-tape of like 1 longish album. Therefore, idea the following!:
iii) If preparing a mix of type (i), no more than one song per side of a given record can be put on the shuffle.

This makes it a projekt! A little twist on the desert-island-disks format. Originally, I wanted to hold myself to one song per record, but, as always, Bringing it All Back Home refused to comply. In the comments, I'll throw out my first stab at at a type (i) playlist with type (iii) limitations... Projekt!

So watch out world! 'Cause nobody can stop it! Nobody! Ever!

A venerable summer NBA hobby is the inevitable "so-and-so's been working out all summer and dropped 20 pounds or whatever so WATCH OUT!!"

Still, from this photo, it would take me a second to recognize this as Zach Randolph, he of the baby fat and floor-bound game.
Check the definition on his shoulders and arms. I think there's a photographic perspective thing going on that makes his legs and torso look skinnier than they actually are. Not to deny that his torso does look trim. Also, his face and neck look thinner. Despite his baby fat and lack of dunking I've always thought Zach was incredibly quick in and around the post when he has the ball. If he really has lost significant weight and is in the proverbial "best shape of his career," then je t'aime! Encore!! Je t'aime!!!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Self-Actualization of Team USA Basketball.

Melo, James, Bosh in their ABCD Camp jerseys.
I miss the absence of HSers in the draft because I always l
iked that ABCD Camp high collar on these kids profile pics.

The U.S. Team's 15 finalists for the FIBA World Basketball Championships (in Japan - the mascots a Hello Kitty character!) were announced today. These 15 will go to Japan for a couple of exhibition games, then be trimmed to 12 for actual tourney, which begins August 19th.

The final 15. With some lovenotes from me in italics
Carmelo Anthony
Gilbert Arenas -
two names in and two of my favorites already!
Shane Battier
Chris Bosh
- At this point, kind of a "if not Amare, then Bosh, kind of thing?
Bruce Bowen
Elton Brand
Kirk Hinrich
Dwight Howard
- Someone at Freedarko dubbed Howard the "Oak of Christianity" once. Oddly, this only increased my liking for this kid.
LeBron James
Antawn Jamison
Joe Johnson
Brad Miller
Chris Paul
- I think Paul could, no, should make this TeamUSA special, usher in a new era, so forth.
Amaré Stoudemire - The rest of the [NBA] world will be watching… his knee.
Dwyane Wade - Either he's gonna come through like he did for the Heat or he's gonna screw everything up by trying to come through like he did for the Heat.
There are several items of interest (to me) here.

1. It pleases me that Amare, James, Wade & Melo were on the Larry Brown 2004 Disaster Squad in Athens, and are now on this squad, and all have said requisite quotes about setting the world to right. Stoudemire, it should be noted, is not necessarily 100% guaranteed to be a lock for the final team, coming off the microfracture surgery and all. I also recall a story in 2004 about these four players making a "Young Guns" gentlemen's agreement about which one would win an O'Brien first (why we haven't heard about the other three ponying up to Wade yet? I don't know).

2. Some early reports say that Melo, Chris Paul and Joe Johnson have been the most impressive in the workouts / practices so far. A backcourt of Paul and JJ and Melo at the swing positions is certainly sounds potentially devastating, a sweet concoction of inside-outside game and athleticism.

3. I am not a Coach K fan, but the selection of his assistants: Boeheim, MacMillan, D'Antoni, (with none other than the great Rudy T. doing scouting abroad of the other international teams, and to his credit, he's admitted that several of the Euro squads are worrisome) gives me hope. Note that when this coaching staff was selected it was last summer, after the Suns and Sonics had come off miracle years involving high scoring, outside shooting, lots of passing offenses. Observers at the practices say Boeheim is the zone guy, D'Antoni the international guy, and MacMillan is Nate. Also Coach K's saying that he wants to utilize Team USA's "athleticism." This is interesting because to me its seems like a "Larry Brown used to be great, but that 'Right Way' crap he tried to use in Athens is totally counterproductive and pointless in international competition" thing to say. Also…

4. What exactly is the "American style" of basketball? Note that this may be another way of asking "what is the NBA-style of basketball" to a certain degree (at the risk of asking whether, say, Dirk plays "NBA-style" ball or is just a fantastic "non-American" player who somehow fits in despite a lack of "true" NBA talents). Certainly, "American" style would seem to involve athleticism, although clearly the days of the sound and the fury (running and overpowering the opposition out the gym, Vince jumping over Frenchmen, etc.) appears to have past. I'll admit that, right now, I really don't have an answer to this line of thought, but the my intrigue in the Paul-J.Johnson-Melo triad would lead me to suggest the following: that the truly strongest attribute of a Team USA player would be their versatility. Which is funny, because basically it means that Kevin Garnett IS American-style / NBA-style basketball, and that seems ridiculously self-evident once you actually think about it.

5. There are some doubters out there, who have written that all the praise and optimism this summer is no different than the praise and optimism the preceded the Athen's debacle (that team was supposed to set the world to right after the George Karl-led iceberg at the last World Champtionships in Indianapolis).* I can see the parallels of the 2004 and 2006 teams (namely a lack of a dominant center offset by a ton of swingmen), but all I would have to say is A combination of Chris Paul or Arenas at the point and Wade or LeBron at the offguard is a much more solid backcourt than the downright painful (on paper and on court) duo of Iverson and Marbury (shudder!!!).

I also think (the white) Brad Miller will work out better than anyone suspects. My recollection is that his best years were when J. O'Neal then Webber could spread the floor for him to make his little passes and basically do that neat-o Joel Pryzbilla type of stuff ("I set a great screen!"). I think Brand and Jamison should make things gravy for Miller, as well as Amare if he's truly ready to play.

6. Hinrich's alright, but he's recovering from ankle surgery, I think. Prob won't make final 12.

7. Bowen better get cut. This would please me immensely. I'd rather be eliminated in the first round that have to watch this dude play.

*I actually saw the 2002 World Championship team play an exhibition game before the tourney here in Portland against Dirk & the rest of the German team. And trust me, that was not a pretty game. Really, the writing was on the wall. We were slipping. Another sidenote is that Serbia-Mntenegro won that tourney and then completely unraveled at the Olympics two years later. Now I've read today that Nenad Krstic won't play for the Serbian national team. As far as international basketball pedigree goes, the Serbs would seem to the other embarrassed fans along with the U.S. right now.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Several years back, peculiar sequencing of circumstance led me to take up Japanese toy collectioning. The original impetus was via Gozilla vinyls and plastics, but those proved somewhat pricey, so the early filling out of the shelves was accomplished through ranks upon ranks of 4.5" G Gundam figures. These were purchased at the local Fred Meyer, where the stock turned over fairly regularly, the said figures were frequently on sale, and you could have the quiet dignity of spending $4.99 on an action figure of a robot that rode a surfboard, wore a football helmet, and alternated between pistols and boxing gloves for choices of weaponry, in the relative privacy of a self-checkout line.

Eventually I tired of the Gundams, and attempted to expand the volume and variety of my mold-injected minions by traipsing to the then actual physical storefront of Dr. Tongues 3D House of Collective Toys on east Burnside about every two weeks and grabbing some item or another. My preferred methodology for selecting plasticine additions was to surf the Dr. Tongues site several days in advance and earmark several items (within a budget, usually, of, say, $20-$30) for closer scrutiny when I got to the store.

The ultimate fruits of this methodology was that one day I stumbled upon the Stikfas Mechana figure. Dr. Tongues raved that it possessed, like, a billion points of articulation, and more impressively, that it had actual jointed fingers and thumbs, so, y'know, it could, like, hold stuff!! No kung fu grip here, kemosabe! AND. It came with a teddy bear!

Reader be warned, the path of stikfa is a slippery slope! Despite ridiculously out-of-scale packaging (compared to actual product) and relatively high price (around $10 per figure), stikfas remain indelibly cool. Stikfas was originally partnered with Hasbro, but Hasbro jilted them, resulting in Stikfas trading large-scale distribution in for a wider selection of figures (as well as me acquiring 3 samurai and 2 dragons in the discount aisle at ToysRUs) . To wit, prior to the parting with Hasbro, the coolest figures, in my mind, were the Mechana, the Samurai, the Kung-Fu Monk, and the Dragon. Solid, reliable figures. But post break-up stikfas rolled out such neato kits as the Spaceman, Cowboy, Hoplite, Punk Rocker, Super Hero & Super Villain, and a Pirate.

Its been a while since I purchased any stikfas, but they just can't stop, can they? Stikfas has to go along and put this thing out there!!!

image hosted by blogger
A stikfa INSIDE a mechanized walker?!?

I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it I want it!


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

retell the retail: binge of consumption edition

Since I work retail (I'm the Nintendo Guy at my buddy Canada's one-stop-geek-shopping emporium Nerdful Things), it's only natural that on my day off, I go off to hang out in retail environments and spend my money. That worthless bastard Collision wasn't working to-day, so I dragged his sorry ass along.

After a thorough imbibation of coffee, we staggered on down to the mall. He was mainly staggering, I think, because he was still drunk from last night. I don't think he'd slept at all. Collision's deep in his rum phase at the moment. I blame myself for this: I've been making him play this game about pirates with me, since there's too many random encounters for me to deal with by myself, if I'm to maintain my sanity. Me, I was staggering because it was knee-bucklingly bright outside; hurty!

Once at the mall, we hit the Barnes and Noble to read free magazines for a bit. Once these pleasures palled, Collision staked out his usual spot in front of Torrid. There's a bench there he likes to hang out on, eating fries and ogling the plus-sized ladies; "they got real low self esteem", he likes to say. He's a scumbag. I bounced between GameSpot and EB Games, which are the same company but different stores, with different prices, bafflingly enough. It's cool: I like shopping. The Hulk game has gotten pretty cheap at all the places that still have it, but I was on a different mission to-day. Spartan: Total Warrior looks like a competent God of War substitue for a PlayStation2less critter like myself, but I was on a different mission to-day. Okay, that's not true. I was on no mission whatsoever to-day, I just didn't really want to drop thirty bucks on something that's just going to sit on the shelf in its shrinkwrap while I plow through my vast backlog of unfinished games.

No way I could pass up Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, though. Not for fifteen bucks! (The 'nets want thirty for it, usually, according to my last online shopping binge.) Embarrassingly, I dig all the FF GBA ports, and I really dig turn-based strategy games, so it's pretty much a no-brainer. Now I've got something to play after I finish up Advance Wars 2, which should be any year now. (Last night, I unlocked a five-star mission. I tremble in fear at the difficulty this will put me through.) And maybe sometime I can get back to Age of Empires DS, but I dunno.

Collision insisted on bento, like he always does, but I talked him into conveyor-belt sushi (my favorite way of eating) with talk of sake. He's so easily canalized it's not even funny. After that, we hit up the local Goodwill. They've got a Dreamcast sitting there that I like to visit now and again, and their fiction section is frankly a marvel.

Their science fiction area is primarily composed of books written in universes invented for television and movies. Sort of a denatured, professionalized fan-fic. I picked up a Homicide: Life on the Street novel for Collision, since he's a noir-obsessed putz, and got a grab-bag for myself. Between an X-Files novel, a Pokemon book, that Peter David Deep Space 9 book, a weird Cartoon Network book about Gundam Wing, and a couple Star Wars books, I should have plenty to read during the slow hours, once I go back to work.

At this point, the coffee kicked back in, and I felt like stretching my legs a bit more. Collision needed to pass out, and after an all-night drunk, coffee, sushi, and sake, I'm not surprised. I grabbed one of his bikes and flew out to Target, just 'cuz it's far enough away that it feels like doing something just to go there. They had a new-in-box copy of Resident Evil, so I clearly needed to hook that up. (No, I never played it. Shut up.) On the way home, I swung by CompUSA and ransacked their clearance bin to the tune of a collection with Mortal Kombat II on it and a ten-buck copy of Polarium, in case Canada ever gives me back my DS. Not quite sated, I decided to give Freddy's a quick peep.

Their clearance shelf had a further %30 off, so I snaked River City Ransom and Ultimate Muscle: The Path of the Superhero. And now I can rest.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006


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D.D. TINZEROES: Well, the Transformers movie, I think, is pretty cool. However… I stipulate the following improvements:
1) John Carpenter does the soundtrack,
2) Hot Rod's voice doesn't change when he turns into Rodimus Prime, and
3) Bumblebee dies.
LAFAYETTE CONTRADICTION:Those are nice changes!! Even better if…
4) Kurt Russell voices Hot Rod instead of, uhm, [snaps fingers] Judd Hirsch!!
TINZEROES: …Fat, its not... nevermind. Uh, while we're at it,

5) that "you've got the touch" theme song gets repaced by the Fixx's "Deeper and Deeper."

CONTRADICTION: Nice. But wouldn't there be trouble because its already being used for the closing credits of Streets of Fire?

TINZEROES: Err, I hadn't really considered that, Fat.

CONTRADICTION: Hey, you know what always bothers me? ArCee. What was up with her? A CHICK Autobot? And she's, like, the only one. Everyone always talks about the Smurfette quandry, but the ArCee situation poses a TON more questions. I mean, they're ROBOTS for crying out loud! They're produced ON AN ASSEMBLY LINE! What do they need genders for?

TINZEROES: Perhaps, maybe, ArCee is some sort of second-tier robot: like a service industry robot. I mean, Autobot society appears to pretty function and task oriented. There's medics, mechanics, scientists, spys, uh, jive-talkers, and so on. It should follow that there's Autobots below this first-tier who perform even more specialized, mundane tasks, like, uh, take out the trash, make Energon pancakes, do the dishes, work the customer assistance phones, etcetera, etcetera..

CONTRADICTION: Uh, the "first-tier" Autobots?

TINZEROES: Yes, Fat. These Autobots would need not to be as strong, tough and such as the ones who fight Decepticons. Hence, they are slender and curvy!!

CONTRADICTION: So, if ArCee's primary function is to be secondary, then why does she get to shoot a laser pistol and fight in battles and fly around the galaxy and stuff?

TINZEROES: Dunno. Some sort of Affirmative Action program, probably. It matters not, anyways! This sort of idle speculation is merely a byproduct of the revisitation to the childhood fascination that was Transformers, and subsequent desire to dream a more befitting canonical crown jewel to that fond childhood franchise.

CONTRADICTION: Yeah, but isn't positing a different plot to the film a kinda silly exercise? I mean, if you watch the old t.v. episodes again, there isn'tt much to write home about. "Creativity/originality" is apparently not found in the Cybertronian lexicon files.

TINZEROES: Okay, Fat, look, just follow with me here, okay? Megatron's stated goal is "to rule the universe." To this end, he seeks to plunder Earth's resources so he can acquire enough Energon to do so. How, exactly, acquiring a planet-worth's of Energon leads, ergo, to ruling the universe, is left up in air, but I'll excuse that. But what can be drawn from this aim is pretty obvious: When Megatron and Optimus, et al. land on Earth, Megatron sees opportunity in Earth's ample resources, presumably IN CONTRAST TO Cybertron's, which, it is established, is a little planet MADE OUT OF METAL that's been stricken with civil war FOR GENERATIONS, and is, apparently, very sparse in natural resources. By contrast, the Autobots' stated goal, via Optimus, is simply to stop Megatron.

CONTRADICTION: But by protecting the earth, and its resources, from the Decepticons, aren't they basically trying to prevent a second Cybertronian catastrophe?

TINZEROES: True, but they're basically fanatics. Assuming they stopped the Decepticons, what would they do? Pretty much just sit around on their little shithole metal planet and… what, give each other medals for being good citizens?

CONTRADICTION: You could say the Decepticons are go-getters? They're hustlers? They strive?

TINZEROES: Why, yes, you could say that, Fat. Megatron, for one, isn't content to just sit around on his rear bumper, occasionally lubing his crankshaft. Now, ruling the Universe is a little vague as a goal, and megamanical, for sure, but at least the guy has the balls to dream big. The Decepticons are agents of progress. If it wasn't for them, the Autobots would have never made it to earth in the first place, and, in the overall scheme of things, its safe to assume that without the second campaign on earth, they would have lost Cybertronian Civil War eventually, anyway.
CONTRADICTION: That seems a little harsh. Optimus Prime was a great defensive strategian. His forces were not military in design, but he had evidently kept the Autobots on their feet for decades, perhaps centuries… And let's not forget that he fights these defensive battles in unfamiliar conditions, on unfamiliar terrain, once they get to Earth. That's tough!

TINZEROES: Oh please. By dumbfuck luck if nothing. Take a standard skirmish on Earth: Megatron cooks up a fairly ingenious plan to collect a dumptruck of Energon in one fell swoop, he gets his team on it, they get shit done. Meanwhile, the Autobot Counter-Intelligence unit, the only reasonably competent branch of the Autobot forces, catch wind of what’s up, report back to HQ, and you know what Optimus does EVERY SINGLE TIME?

CONTRADICTION: "Autobots! Transform and Roll Out!" [laughs]

TINZEROES: [laughs] Yep, full frontal assault. [chuckles, wipes tears from corners of eyes] "Subtlety" is a concept unknown to Autobot culture, it appears. Still, due to the relative competence of the Autobots counterintel unit, the Decepticons always get caught at the second-to-last stage of their plan, so they never get the big haul of Energon, just enough to pull off the next scheme.

CONTRADICTION: I understand your raking of Optimus over coals for incompetence, or his uninsipred leadership, but how does this feed into the movie?

TINZEROES: Well, you see, turns out the opening sequence of the film, resulting in Optimus' death, perfectly follows the structural deficiencies of Autobot culture I have outlined this far :

(1) Megatron pulls off a brilliant sneak attack on Autobot city on earth;

(2) with the Autobot defenders on their heels, Optimus shows up with some reinforcements, and then

(3) proceeds to launch an all out frontal assualt BY HIMSELF.

He kicks some butt, then ends up getting killed by Megatron. In truth, this should have happened a long time ago.

CONTRADICTION: I thought you said you'd rewrite the entire script. So far, you've basically told the story of the first reel as is, but justified it with a little more logic and internal consistency.

TINZEROES: Well, if you think about the only thing more systematically damaging than Optimus' imcompetence was the way all the Autobots were completely loyal to him. As a result, when he dies, they're thrown into complete disarray. They're on their heels for the entire film. And, to me, this seems the exact opposite of what should really happen.

CONTRADICTION: D.D., this has better be good…

TINZEROES: Okay, Autobot society is a total Leadership Cult built around Optimus. He could tell an Autobot to tear humans in half and they'd do it. But when he dies, and he cedes leadership to Ultra Magnus, and the Autobots are suddenly even worse off than they ever were before. Now, the Decepticons loose Megatron as well, but their society is of a simple "the strong lead" variety, so after some quick infighting Starscream emerges as the new leader. But, since Ultra Magnus is, by his own words "just a soldier," then the way I figure it, he not only takes the Matrix, he makes a point to also take Optimus' bad-ass blaster rifle…

CONTRADICTION: That blaster was bad-ass.

TINZEROES: At this point, given the structure of Autobot culture, its a very powerful and revered religious artifact, as well. Magnus takes the blaster, he gives Optimus this grand state funeral, like a viking funeral or a Spock space funeral, launching his body towards the sun , or whatever, and then, basically, the Optimus Prime Jihad begins.


TINZEROES: Yes. Its like taking two mediocre films, Transformers: The Movie and Lynch's Dune, and making a great one.

CONTRADICTION: [whispers] Cybertron… The Metal Planet…

TINZEROES: [giggles] Yeah. Anyway, I think it’s a given Ultra Magnus is a hundred fold better tactician than Optimus ever was, AND he's got the cloak of Optimus' Leader Cult draped over his shoulders, the Matrix in one hand, Prime's blaster in the other. He's not all wiffle-waffle: he's bringing the fucking smack-down on the Decepticons!

CONTRADICTION: But… I confess, this complicates things and makes more sense and all, but does that REALLY affect the ultimate ending? Unicron still finds Megatron and makes him into Galvatron and gives him his new bad-ass troops and stuff.

TINZEROES: True, but the point is the Autobots are on the offensive. Magnus and the rest of the Earth 'bots beat Galvatron back to Cybertron, and ambush the Decepticons at Starscream's coronation. Galvatron doesn't kill Starscream, Magnus does.

CONTRADICTION: He rips his head off and drains his oil filter down his neck! Ha! Or, perhaps, he'll rip his optics out and reboots his mainframe…MANUALLY!!

TINZEROES: Yeah. Anyway. Another Decepticon power struggle insues, but Galvatron arrives and reasserts command, Since Autobots don't have their heads completely up their exhaust pipes and their shifters in their hands, for a change, they actually fend him off after maybe some initial confusion.

CONTRADICTION: This is some crazy shit.

TINZEROES: Get's crazier, Fat. The Prime Jihad was hot and heavy before, but the Autobots figure out that Galvatron is the robot formerly known as Megatron, and they go completely apeshit, I mean, Prime, the freakin' Holy Leader, is dead, but Megatron lives?! They figure this is the Armageddon battle and basically go into apocalyptic witch-hunting mode, seeking out Decepticons wherever they can be found.

CONTRADICTION: I believe I perceive where this is going. Because now Unicron shows up.

TINZEROES: Correct. The Eater of Worlds couldn't pick a better time. The Autobots think they're in the End Times, and the Matrix is in the wrong hands. He attacks, and I guess Galvatron turns on him anyway. Cybertron is getting eaten, but the Autobots are doing crazy shit, like using spaceships in suicide attacks and such. Magnus is all "Prime's Wrath Hath No Fury" and leads a heavy casualty attack that ends up with what he assumes is the Big Finale, him and Galvatron mano y mano. And here's where crap gets really crazy, because I think Magnus fails to unlock the Matrix, gets offed, Galvatron gets the Matrix, he can't unseal it either, and Hot Rod - voiced by Kurt Russell - somehow ends up with it, slaps Galvatron around, and then destoys Unicron.

CONTRADICTION: So the movie ends the same, but just took a different, and admittedly cooler and more twisted route to get there?

TINZEROES: Almost. They're probably estatic at first: Unicron is gone. Cybertron is theirs. But if we go on what the series leaves us with, Galvatron and his forces live, and fight, on. The Autobots believe they've fought the Final Battle and won. And Magnus ain't in charge anymore, and "Rodimus Prime" can't quite carry keep the Passion of the Prime burning like Magnus did. And the Autobot forces have to be pretty depleted. I think the future looks bleak. I think the only hope the Autobots have maybe involves Rodimus somehow meeting the Junkabots or whatever, which wouldn’t have happened in my rewrite of the movie's script, because the Autobots would have never been scattered like that in the first place, and somehow converting them to the Cult of the Matrix, which is really the only thing he's got going for him. With that entire NEW CIVILIZATION of transforming culture-junkie robots at his disposal, who apparently are also great at repairing damaged 'bots, I think the Autobots prevail, ultimately, but then, of course, we're sorta back where we began: assuming they stopped the Decepticons, what would they do then?

Monday, July 10, 2006


Nice little Oregonian article to-day about Sebastian Telfair's reaction to his trade to the Celtics. He said all the right stuff: I liked the city and my team-mates; though McMillan was a bad fit for my style, I learned a lot from him, etc. Now, I know full well that this is just Telfair turning on the bland machine and issuing forth the requisite jockspeak script for his role of "good-guy player type three"--remember even before he was drafted, he mentioned that he wouldn't be getting any tattoos because he wanted to present a wholesome image. Perhaps it's just a gesture on his part, but it's a gesture I appreciate.

So I can wish him well and forget about him now. Ah, closure.


(All that being said, I think it's likely the Blazers will miss him badly this year. While I was far from sold on Telfair as a viable starting point guard, at least he had talent and speed. Steve Blake and Jarret Jack are probably already as good as they're ever going to be, and both are comparatively quite slow, which is a bummer. And this supposed master plan of throwing a rookie in at the point? An out-of-position rookie? Yeah, McMillan's going to sign off on THAT all year.)

(And though I've got some closure on Telfair, I (will) still have a bit of interest in his career. He seems not unlike Kenny Anderson to me, so let's say the best-case scenario occurs and he maxes out at Kenny Anderson's best numbers: 18.8, 9.6 over 82 games in 92-3. If this happens, I will be more than a little bitter that the Bs bailed on him just to get out of a contract they gave to injury fan Theo Ratliff. Forewarned!)

Friday, July 07, 2006

outline/timeline I: my beloved pink handheld

A year ago, almost exactly, I was on a train from Oakland back here to Portland. Round midnight, overcaffinated and dumping trash into the seat-back pouch in front of me, I discovered a Nintendo DS. I fired it up instantly and played around with it for a bit. It had been registered to some guy named "jake", and had a comment listing of "never ever date vicky".(1) Eventually I got around to firing up the games, instead of just playing around with the machine's settings. Super Mario 64 DS was wholly impenetrable to my meager platforming skills, but I was instantly enthralled with Pokemon Sapphire.

Stealing is wrong.

But the guy doesn't even capitalize his own name, the pretentious putz, and the anti-Vicky bit struck me as infinitely juvenile. So...I kept the DS when my train ride was over. Crime is bad, but crime against children is 'way less a bad thing, right.

Soon enough, my inept stabs at Pokemon had drained the little guy's batteries totally. The little silver fella sat around my hovel for a couple months, because I just knew that the charger would be like fifty bucks. Fucking Nintendo. Then I ended up at this obscure Jewish retail outfit here in the northwest, called "Fred Meyer". Turns out that DS chargers retail for around a Hamilton. Hours later, I was thigh-deep in Hoenn's tall grass again, trying to catch 'em all.

Now, I am very very bad at Pokemon. (This sentiment will recur again and again throughout my work on this site, ranging from tragedy to farce, you may be sure.) Nevertheless, I felt a strong desire to play it. Since I despise that at which I am bad, there's a contradiction here.(2) This contradiction is most easily resolved by playing a NEW game, which maybe I could get good at and not despise (it).(3)

And thus was founded my love for handheld gaming. Within days, I'd scored my beloved pink handheld from a Goodwill for twenty bucks, and loaned the DS to my housemate so he can play New Super Mario Brothers.

As has been noted, the GBA is a truly terrific system.(5) Sadly, in the US, it's widely considered to be for kiddies. I weep hot, manly tears every time I peep a list of best sellers for the little platform. Such a fucking waste. But in Japan, it's very much a reasonable console for serious gaming, and a trickle of those titles get localized for our fair shores, which I then cherrypick, play for a while, enjoy the living shit out of, and abandon when I succumb to my Urge to Consume.

Follows a list of the games I'll might could get around to working on for here.

Pokemon Sapphire.

Maybe I'll come back to this one someday. A buddy of mine recently expressed some interest, so I'm trying to convince him to get one of the games we could trade rare Pokemon between...

Fire Emblem: the Sacred Stones.

One of the games on the very short list of "games that got me back into gaming".(6) I played it through, beat it, and immediately started a new game. Didn't make it through the second time, but what an awesome little game.

Astro Boy: the Omega Factor.

I picked this up despite being fairly sure it would fall into the category of "good license, mediocre game".(7) To my great surprise and immense joy, this is widely considered one of the best games in recent years. Sadly, it's pretty difficult, so I still haven't finished it. Someday, maybe someday...

Final Fantasy IV.

Still need to finish the last couple bosses. Got sidetracked.

Tales of Phantasia.

You know, I really really want to like the Tales of... series. Tales of Symphonia, after all, was a rental title that really helped repique my interest in games. But this little fucker is seriously an unplayable mess. I'll give it another shot, but I can't imagine myself playing this guy for any length of time.

Final Fantasy I.

One of the things that sidetracked me from FFIV. Finished it without great difficulty.

Final Fantasy II.

A trend in what I've been playing? Well, yes. 20/30 hours is all I can really spend playing any game, which gets you less than halfway through, say, Baten Kaitos, but is more than enough for old-timey games recently ported to portable systems. Yay the late 80s RPG! Anyhow, haven't really started this one yet. Taking a FF break.

Advance Wars 2.

Holy crap is this game addictive. This and Age of Empires DS have a way of sucking 6 hours from me utterly without mercy. Luckily, I hit stages in each that I couldn't beat on the first attempt, so I was able to take breaks from them. Both I will beat, however.

Iridion II.

Because everybody needs a game where they fly a space ship around and blow up lots of other spaceships. Pew, pew, pewpewpewpew!


Finished this a couple nights ago. Many electrons to be used on this little gem. If you're in a desperate hurry to see a review, I can suggest this one, which is a PERFECT example of much that's wrong with the "new game journalism": not only does he feel desperately inclined to tout his "I've had sex, you know" status, but the information he presents about the game fails to indicate that he played it for any longer than an hour.(8)

Gonna get to these sometime, maybe.

Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories.
Gunstar Super Heroes. (See Astro Boy on difficulty.)

And that's the outline! See you in the streets.


(1) This latter bit is funny primarily if you know that this comment listing feature is what one DS will broadcast to another DS if they're within ad-hoc wi-fi-ing range. It's like the introduction you'd pick to make to people, like a business card. "Never ever date Vicky."

(2) See here my contempt for "pleasing a woman" and "holding down a steady job". Also "bathing on the regular" and "not being a total(ly) pompous ass".

(3) This resolution dovetails nicely with a highly problematic major compulsion I have: a total desire to Consume New Products.(4) --Used games won't scratch the itch, I've tried. On a formal basis, I suppose my desire is simply to acquire shrinkwrapped items. Currently, I have around 5 shrinkwrapped games on my rack, with a half-dozen more whose shrinkwrap has been broken, but that I have yet to play. I'll get to them, I'll get to them...

(4) This compulsion is problematic because of my politics. It's formally equivalent to a strong desire to, on my day off, go out and do something really really racist. I don't know why retail therapy appeals to me, and I'm trying to extirpate the tendency, but that begins with being honest about it.

(5) If you've got enough ambient light. I can't play at home, which is why I live at the coffee shop. Hey, Advance Wars games don't/won't beat themselves, okay?

(6) The blizzard we had when I rented the Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Tales of Symphonia and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem basing pretty much the remainder of the list. And maybe that Pokemon game/train trip.

(7) See also, Animaniacs: The Great Edgar Hunt and Robotech: Battlecry.

(8) The first problem is wholly unavoidable in the genre, unfortunately. The second, however, is unforgivable. The entire attraction to NGJ is that the kids are passionate about their subject matter, so when they start slacking on their actual gaming it undercuts the entire enterprise. I'll put up with the dozens of paragraphs in which the writer fails to actually talk about the fucking game, I'll put up with the endless nattering about their lives, which are inevitably wholly trivial enterprises, but ONLY BECAUSE the actual content about the game is often interesting. In this light, we may point also to: Rogers, Tim, essentially every word ever written. Oh, and that guy with like two first names--both of them spelt in quirky fashion!--two last names, AND an umlaut. I'll get to the other major problems with NGJ in later posts. Trust me.