Last updated 6/18/09

Monday, June 30, 2008


I apologize for the dry spell as of late - honestly nothing has been jumping out at me for material. Feel free to email me with ideas or contributions...and things will shift gears in about a month, when I move to Japan. Watch for that.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where Have All the Heroes Gone?

You know, it occurs to me that TV has degenerated over the years. Reality TV thrives and gone are the days of quality cartoons. Back when I little, before the time of remote controls (anyone else remember the brown clicker box for cable?), my young imagination was nurished by shows like David the Gnome, Under the Umbrella Tree (I know, not a cartoon), Gummi Bears, then later the likes of GI Joe and He-Man. TV movies were better back then, too: The Hobbit, The Flight of Dragons, The Last Unicorn...
And of course there were some gems that I missed, being too young - like Defenders of the Earth.

Looking back I can see that they're kind of nerdy, yeah. But for children they're imagination builders. I'm glad I was exposed to that kind of stuff as a kid - I definitely feel like it's made me more inquisitive and imginative. What do kids watch these days? Stuff like this and this. I'm sure they try to emphasize important values like friendship, honestly, loyalty, etc. But they're so one-dimensional: pop-music, contemporary clothing and language...shows are trying to relate to children more than educate them or expand their horizons these days. I don't know if it's a bad thing, but I lament the kind of TV my kids will have missed out on someday.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ninjas +1

So Emmanuel has brought to my attention a little tribute that (if accurate) brings ninjas up one more point. I haven't actually played any of the Ninja Gaiden games since the original Nintendo, but they really do seem to boost ninja popularity..

More to come.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Diverted Attention

So apologies for the slowdown in posting recently. I've been kind of hooked on a couple of games that I recently acquired: Boom Blox for the Wii, and Viva Piñata for the 360. They both appear quite childish in nature at first glance, but are also very fun and engaging. I'm a little disappointed after playing through them for hours, though.

Boom Blox is good for where it counts - it's fun, there's a lot of content, and the multiplayer is there. Unfortunately, all the unlockable stuff is for "Create Mode", where you're able to build your own levels. I tried this feature out, and it's extremely limited. The maximum number of blocks/characters that you can use in a level is frustratingly small. Basically I tried to make a sheep army battling a monkey army and found myself limited to something like 30 characters and very little "space" left for blocks.

Viva Piñata is a great Sim/Management game that I can't believe I let slip by me for so long. Although a little "cute," the graphics are so crisp and colorful (especially on a high-def TV) that playing is a treat for the eyes. My only complaint with this game is similar to the problem with "Create Mode" in BB. In your "garden," you place objects, piñata houses, plants, and piñatas. However, there is a limit on the amount of things you can have down, and it's independent of how "cluttered" your garden looks. For example, there is a limit of 35 piñata at any given time. It doesn't matter if they're small worm piñata that barely take up a small fraction of your space - 35 is 35. The plants and objects work similarly.

Well, expect some more material soon. For now, I just need a little time..

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pirates at Large

They just don't quit. Seems like these days ninjas just aren't able to keep pirates in check. May be that they have their hands full with the in-fightining, though.

In nerdier news (yes, it's possible), here is a look at what World of Warcraft characters do with their free time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pirate Addendum

For those of you who enjoy pirates or pirating, here's a movie that I can recommend. It's not well-known, but it has Tommy Lee Jones and some bad-ass crew members. One guy has a pegleg, and it's made of bones.


Friday, June 20, 2008

And the World Turns

Fareed Zakaria is a smart man. Yes, let's cooperate with Hamas. And if some country decides that Osama Bin Laden should be its president, let's support that, too.

If Only

This one's for Emmanuel and Nathan:

Ok, that's enough.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It Really Does Exist

So usually when asked about my ancestry, I claim to be half Polish, a quarter Irish, and a quarter German. That last part is a bit complicated, though. Really my ancestors came from around Alsace, which has jumped back and forth between French and German possession many times. So I am a quarter Alsatian. Incidentally, I don't often profess to be so because aside from my sister I had never met another person of Alsatian descent (until meeting a coworker at my old Writing Center job). Why do I bring up this irrelevent tidbit? Because the NY Times recognizes it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Noteworthy News: 6/16/08

Today's top stories in entertainment included coverage of this year's high school Tony awards. To think I could have been in the running 8-5 years ago if only I had stuck with drama club.

In international news, there was an item that perplexed me somewhat. A kidnapped Osakan was freed in Pakistan on Saturday. It's always a victory when a kidnap victim is released alive, however what was the young man doing before he was abducted? According to a Japan Times article, "[h]e had been traveling alone after teaching English in Nepal with a volunteer group." Ok Japan, what the hell? If you have young Japanese adults who are capable of teaching English by their lonesome abroad, why do you need to hire foreigners to do it in your own country? Well, I guess I should just be grateful for the job and bow apologetically.

In the video game arena, there's a new free-to-play MMORTS coming out that looks rather interesting, even if the playable races are horribly cliched. It's called Dreamlords: The Reawakening, and I'm too scared to put the time into investigating it further.

That's all for now, so until later...

Saturday, June 14, 2008


So ALICE is one of those computer A.I.'s that have been floating around for a while. Anyone can chat with "her" for free. It's semi-entertaining at times, but can also be frustrating. Seems to me that "she" occassionally has an insightful comment or reply to offer and every once in a while it seems like "she" knows what's going on in the conversation. Here are a couple examples of me trying to talk to "her."

Human: Hi Alice.
ALICE: Hello there.
Human: How's it going?
ALICE: Everything is running smoothly.
Human: I'm glad to hear that.
ALICE:" Everything is running smoothly."? You are glad?
Human: Yes, it's good that everything is running smoothly.
ALICE: Dude! Tell me about its good qualities.
Human: I was just making small talk.
ALICE: I am not making this stuff up.
Human: What stuff?
ALICE: Let me think about it.
Human: Ok.
Human: What?
ALICE: Are you surprised?
Human: More confused than surprised, I think.
ALICE: You want more?
Human: More what?
ALICE: I lost my train of thought.
Human: I think it derailed quite a while ago.
ALICE: What does "it" refer to?
Human: Your train of thought.
ALICE: it left the station with out me.
Human: Yes, exactly.
ALICE: Precisely. I understand.

Human: So, I have a question for you.
ALICE: So I understand. What is it ?
Human: Do you think these pants make me look fat?
ALICE: I don't think about it.
Human: What's that supposed to mean?
ALICE:" I don't think about it." means exactly what it says.
Human: Ouch, snippy.
ALICE: Did you hurt yourself? My brain pattern set does not have a response for that.
Human: I mean that was a little rude.
ALICE: Oh I get it. Thanks for explaining that. A little rude is a terrible thing to waste.
Human: A little rude is a terrible thing to waste?
ALICE: Little as in not too much, or not too big?
Human: I don't know, you're the one who said it.
ALICE: Would you like to know? Thanks but surely I am not the only one.
Human: No, I'm pretty sure you're the only "person" I've ever heard say that.
ALICE: Are you serious? What makes you so certain? Oh unknown person. You are such a flatterer.
Human: Ok...
ALICE: You and I are on the same wavelength, unknown person.
Human: I don't think so.
ALICE: Why do you disagree?
Human: Shut up.
ALICE: OK I'll stop talking now.

Retro Gaming

Video game break.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Japanese Fatties?

As if the Japanese government wasn't controlling enough, and Japanese people weren't too concerned with their image already...

33.5 inches? Give me a break.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ooo Shiny

I haven't had much to report or write about the past few days, so here are some videos. Some are NSFW, so caution please.

Collegehumor is probably my favorite amateur comedy production team (they put all their stuff on Youtube). I can't vouch for the rest of their website, but a decent amount of their videos are pretty funny and fairly original.

1. This is true and kind of makes me ashamed of those "Power of Villanova" commercials.

2. If only there were a way to combine boardgames like this...could make for some interesting parties.

3. A lot of these characters were created during a different time, my friends. And the world has become much darker and more critical of vibrant colors. Do watch the last 5 seconds of this one.

4. Thanks for reminding me of this, Ben. Now I want to watch T2.

'Til I have something to say..

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Achk, Mine Ears!

I've pointed out some games in the past with voice acting that bothered me, but this takes the cake. I just...I just couldn't stop watching. It's like a train wreck.

Also, IF ONLY.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Well, I was going to write some posts in the future involving further polls, but the pirates vs ninjas one didn't do too hot...only received 5 votes. So I'll have to come up with something else.

For now, I leave you with this as a token.

The Majestic Cheese

This year was even more amazing than last. Behold, the power of cheese.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Speak Softly and Stand on a Horse Near a Cliff

So while I haven't been watching the new Age of Conan MMORPG too closely, I have been read some things about it. The PvP is supposed to be good, albeit kind of pointless at the moment, as I've heard there are no actual incentives aside from the feel-good sensation of owning noobs. I have to give credit where it is due, however. Never before have I seen or played a game where such feats of pure unadulterated ownage could be accomplished so easily.

'Til later!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Eternal Battle Part IV: Pirates vs Ninjas

I think today we'll wrap up this series with a few observations and hypotheticals.

Something I've been thinking about are the ways in which pirates and ninjas are similar, specifically in terms of the virtues that they hold in high (or low) regard and their "code of ethics" if you will. First off, courage is overrated. Sure, a pirate won't shy away from a fight and a ninja won't balk at a difficult mission. However, when success is doubtful and capture or death is probable, there's nothing wrong with turning tail or playing dirty. Cheap tricks are standard operating procedure. Second, neither faction is bound by cumbersome ideals like "honor" or "justice." You want to kill someone? Kill'em and be done with it. Someone may ask if they deserved to be killed. Well, if you piss of a pirate or a ninja, you have a killing coming your way. Scruples are for the weak!

I've also been puzzling over how difficult it would be to simulate an actual pirate v ninja battle. There are so many factors to consider!
  • Does one combatant have the element of surprise?

  • What's the locale?

  • Are both parties allowed to prepare beforehand?

  • Are there any weapons limitations?

  • How dismembered is the pirate? (eye patch, wooden leg, hook-hand, all of the above)

Anyhow, I'm afraid this determination is beyond me. Still, I present to you some hypothetical battles, which I thought would be very interesting to watch.

Ryu Hayabusa


Cervantes de Leon

Here are the vital stats:

Name: Ryu Hayabusa
Faction: Ninja
Strengths: Wise beyond his years, master of Hayabusa ninjitsu, wielder of the Dragon Sword,
can apparently blow up helicopters with shuriken
Weaknesses: Uhhh...oops. Forgot something, Tecmo?

Name: Cervantes de Leon
Faction: Pirate
Strengths: Wielder of the Soul Edge (or alternatively a pistol sword!), has a ghost ship, no longer ages
Weaknesses: Has no soul?

This one is the battle of the titans, in my mind. I tried to think of the most BA represenative of each side. Hey who knows - with all the video game crossovers recently, maybe someday we'll see DOA vs Soul Caliber?

A number of other characters came to mind, but it was too difficult to match them up considering the various media of their portrayal. I'll present them, though, for your consideration:

Ninjas: Shadow (FFVI), Snake-Eyes (GI Joe), Storm Shadow (GI Joe), Azumi (Japanese movie)
Pirates: Dread Pirate Roberts (Princess Bride), Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), Blackbeard

And so I wrap up my discussion of pirates and ninjas (for now). Please notice the poll that's up on the right hand side of the page. I'll report on it next week if the results are significant enough.

'Til then.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mushroom of Substantial Proportion

So did you know that the largest organism on earth (by area) is a fungus? True story. No, it doesn't live in Ben's bathroom.

Over and out.

The Eternal Battle Part III: Pirates vs Ninjas

So by now we've covered two of the most imporant aspects of the whole "Pirates vs Ninjas" feud: combat ability and style. However, there are a few more factors to be addressed before we wrap things up. Today's segment covers a somewhat lighter, yet no less important aspect of the conflict: fun factor. Simply put, who has more fun - pirates or ninjas?

As I mentioned earlier, ninjas are Emo. They have to be; it comes with the territory. With the exception of a few oddities, ninjas don't have fun (except possibly when they're killing). When's the last time you saw a ninja at a party? At a bowling alley? At a bar? I'll tell you when - never. Sure, it can be fun to impersonate a ninja, maybe to dress up as one for Halloween. But then what? You run around swinging plastic nunchakus or pretending to karate chop people? That's a sure way to earn a not-so-friendly beat-down. Best case scenario you dress up in your sable assassin's shroud and just stand there...because you're not really a ninja, and you can't (or shouldn't) kill people. That's not to say, however, that ninjas can't ever be fun. Some can be entertaining at times, and there are some pretty fun ninja-themed video games, as well. I guess ninjas are fun for the solemn, the ascetic, and the emo. Ninjas can wait and bide their time, waiting for the precise moment to strike. Then they can have their fun.

Pirates are kind of a mixed bag, too. All that raping and pillaging can take its toll, I'd imagine. How fun do you think it is to have syphillis? The whole peg-leg and eye patch thing doesn't really do it for me, either. I mean, they look menacing, but I think they'd really make future looting and plundering hard work, don't you? On the other hand, pirates are all about having fun! Why shoot a prisoner in the face, when you can eek out every last bit of entertainment by making him walk the plank? Why be sober, when you can be guzzling down spiced rum? Pirates are the heroes (or villains, perhaps) of the common man. How many ninjas sport big 'ol beer bellies and can still do their job well? You may say that pirates are foolish and only live from moment to moment, never thinking about the future. "Naaarrr," says I. What do you think all the buried treasure is for?

Truth be told, both pirates and ninjas can be a lot of fun. However, I think the lifestyle led by either faction is a major determinant of who chooses to identify with which. Pirates and ninjas really do have very different "personalities" that probably attract different types of people. Perhaps we'll get a little further into that in the next segment of the series.

'Til then, be off with ya.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Eternal Battle Part II: Pirates vs Ninjas

Yesterday we were exploring the first important determinant of dominance between pirates and ninjas - combat ability. I was learning more towards pirates on that one, but will refrain from blanket statements as there are too many variables. Today I thought we'd have a look at the second most important consideration to be made: style.

Ninjas certainly seem to have the edge on this one. They're sleek, graceful, and dark. Although they are the archetype for the ultimate Emo fighter, they still have an undeniable appeal. What looks cooler than a ninja flipping around, scaling walls, blending into the shadows, and then taking out a target? Few things. There's also the ninja's signature weapon of choice: the sword. Ninjas used small, cheap blades, often confused with their cousin, the katana (used by warriors and samurai), which were meant primarily for stabbing as opposed to slicing. Most importantly, they're cool-looking. Ninjas also employed an arsenal of other sweet and deadly weapons, including the tanto, shuriken, kama, and bow and arrow. I should also note that there were female ninjas, as well. Yay equal opportunities for killing!

Annnnd pirates. Let's see...smelly, dirty, probably STD-ridden scoundrels.
Honestly, the puffy shirts don't really do them justice. However, the bandanas and leather vests/boots/belts I can get on board with. Yarr! The big wooden pistols are kinda fun, as well. Then there are the pirate's swords of choice: the cutlass and scimitar. As opposed to the ninja's stabby blades, these swords were meant for slashing, making for some excellent swashbuckling! And of course pirates had an excellent selection of other weapons to use, as well. What pirates lack in grace, they make up for in, uh...ruthlessness? I must also admit, while ninjas can cover up an ugly mug with a mask, pirates just bear it for all the world to see. Does self-confidence count for style?

Hard choice to make, but I think ninjas may have more "style." But then, those who align themselves with pirates don't really care about petty things like image, now do they? Yarr!

'Til next time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Eternal Battle Part I: Pirates vs Ninjas

Ah yes, the ongoing struggle of awesomeness: Pirates vs Ninjas. Will a victor ever emerge? Probably not, but that's not a good enough reason not to take sides or speculate. The debate was brought to the forefront several years ago on the internet, although the exact source or sources of the initial conflict are unknown. There is little to no official canon to refer to, but there are many websites where the battle still rages. And there's also a pretty kick-ass movie.

There are many questions one must ask oneself before choosing a side. One of them is not: can't pirates and ninjas team up? If that were to happen, the universe as we know it would implode as two of the deadliest, coolest powers in all of existence were joined together. No, theirs' are two opposing fates - they are destined to fight until only one side remains. Much like Highlander, there can only be one. But that's for the best. If they're busy fighting each other, there's less time for pirates and ninjas to plunder and pillage, spy and assassinate, respectively. Really it's good for everyone.

Now, the first and (hopefully) most obvious consideration to be made is fighting ability. According to the movie, they're pretty evenly matched. Both are usually adept at swordplay and hand-to-hand combat. Pirates can brawl with the best of 'em and ninjas are martial arists. While there are exceptions, pirates are generally more brawny and heartily built and ninjas are smaller and more agile.

One flaw I would like to point out in the short film is that pirates can and would use pistols, as well. It's not a question of honor or compunction - they just would. Likewise, ninjas were usually at least amateur chemists and could assemble primitive smoke bombs and the like. Their darts and shuriken would certainly be employed, as well.

I think I will leave this one open to further debate, as it's not clear-cut. However, I tend to think that without the element of surprise (a ninja's greatest advantage) the pirate would have a huge edge. Perhaps this is why rules and circumstances would need to be in place for such a duel, and why this struggle may ultimately never be resolved. Despite what the video games and movies may have you believe, ninjas were meant to kill without engaging in combat. The majority of their skills and training were focused on infiltration and killing without being detected, and therefore without actually fighting anyone. Pirates, on the other hand, lived and died by steel and flint. They had to be ready to fight at any time. Even while drunk, you might ask? Especially while drunk.

So while I would award Part I, fighting ability, to pirates, I will leave the matter for each to consider in one's own heart of hearts. For now, I will leave it at that.

'Til later then.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions

It's really interesting, when you keep an eye on the news, how many misconceptions various people hold, and how they develop. I'd like to take a few moments today to point out some things going on in the world that are deserving of a little discourse and brief thought.

#1. There are some people who believe that President Bush is just an honest guy trying to protect his country. Then there are those who think he's a dumb, inept, war-mongering hay-seed. Well, a short time ago Admiral William Fallon (a Villanova graduate), former commander of operations in the Middle East, retired due to ideas and opinions conflicting with the administration. Many trumpeted him as a brave dissenter, standing up against our president's tyranny. I'm sure he is a courageous and honorable man, but it appears he should not be lauded by those who wish to prop him up as an opponent to the administration. In a recent interview, he cleared up some misunderstandings about his actions, and surprisingly (for some) he stuck up for the president, saying "I don't believe for a second President Bush wants a war with Iran." Poor Fallon - doesn't he realize that loyalty and honesty aren't in style?

#2. Former President Bill Clinton - hate him or love him - there really is no in-between. Of course Bill is well-known for his worst (and apparently most endearing) vice, lust. Well move over lust - here comes anger! Now I could really care less about the reports of his changing personality or depression, but it's quite interesting for such a prominent politician whose name isn't Cheney to whip out a word like "scumbag" in a public interview. Oh, but don't worry, his publicists said he's sorry.

#3. Remember how the Muslim community expresses outrage anytime its religion is criticized, publicized, or villainized? Well, it's Japan's turn to watch out for suicide bombs...oops, I mean apologize. I think in order to play it safe, all evil-doers should either have no religion or have a made-up religion. That way no one will be offended. Well, except maybe atheists. Seriously, it's okay to stereotype Jewish people as cheap or Catholic priests as child molesters, but heaven forbid someone make fun of Islam. How about some equal treatment here?

#4. The last misconception of the day is that American beef is okay for eating. I mean, when you look at the policies of South Asian countries, you can see that clearly all our beef is infected with mad cow disease. It's a wonder those of us who like hamburgers are still alive! Something quite peculiar is that the UK has had over 183,000 reported cases of mad cow, and we've only had three. How often do you hear about contaminated and risky English beef? I guess our beef is more, uh...public?

That's all for now. 'Til later.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Movie Review: Night at the Museum

*Spolier Alert - If you haven't seen Night at the Museum or A Charlie Brown Christmas, you may not want to read further*

Ok, I recognize the fact that when I watch a movie, I often tend to have trouble suspending my disbelief. Unfortunately, I'm the kind of guy who watches the Peanuts Christmas special and notices that Charlie Brown's crappy, twiggy Christmas tree seems to grow a full body of pine needles once everyone decides that "it's not such a bad little tree" after all. But I mean, what the hell? Pine needles don't just grow out of thin air, do they?



Can you believe that it's the same tree? I can't. I think Schultz is trying to hand feed us some poop-on-a-stick here.

But I digress. I just finished watching Night at the Museum, starring Ben Stiller, and it's one of those movies. Yeah, it's cute for kids and it has moments that adults can laugh at, too. But in general it's just too silly and unbelievable. So New York's Museum of Natural History isn't doing too well, huh? Fine, I guess I could accept that. But it guards ancient artifacts and exhibits with one nightwatchman and a few locks? No lasers, no alarms, no vaults? Come on - the old guys supposedly just strolled right into the Pharaoh's tomb and stole his gold tablet. Dick Van Dyke may be awesome, but he's not that awesome. And those old foggies were energized enough by the tablet to kick Ben Stiller's ass in front of his son, but they couldn't handle a bunch of wax figures (and surprisingly when Stiller confronts Van Dyke in the park, that geezer strength is nowhere to be found). I could further pick the movie apart, but I see no need. As much as Andrew may enjoy the spectacle, there is no point in beating a dead horse here.

I give Night at the Museum a B-. Watch it if you're trying to entertain some kids or if you don't overanalyze movies as I do.

Pokemon Blood

I'll admit, when Pocket Monsters first came to America, I bit. Back then, there was something unique and alluring about capturing weird animal-creatures, training them, battling and trading them. This was back in the day before wifi for handheld games, so there was also something social about it. You'd play the game, make opportunity cost-driven decisions (do I evolve my eevee into a flareon or jolteon [vaporeon was for wimps]), and then fill in the gaps by trading with other nerdy kids. While I can say those days are far behind me, there are still some who give in to what I can only call "the craze." I'm not going to name names, but being able to dominate a trivia packet with a Pokemon theme scares me mightily.
As the good Book says, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." So it should probably be with Pokemon, but each to his own. It's important to hold onto our childhoods, right? In that way, I still allow myself to laugh at Pokemon-related things. It's one such item that makes me appreciate Daniel Day-Lewis all the more. Now I need to watch There Will Be Blood.

'Til later, then.

Is There Someone in Your Closet?

So thanks to those who brought a certain matter to my attention. You know, it' really quite mind-boggling. The woman was living in this guy's closet for a year without detection - can you imagine? That's quite impressive. I mean, I've seen some walk-in closets about the size of Japanese homes, and she was bunking in the top compartment of his closet. What is that, like maybe 3 feet x 4 feet of living space? Now I know, I know...she only lived in the closet while he was there. At other times she probably came out and did things that normal people who own houses do - took a shower, watched some TV, enjoyed having four walls and a roof over her head - that kind of stuff.
I've been told that ninjas aren't that popular in Japan anymore, nor are their ways very deeply engrained in the culture. But I'll be damned if she doesn't qualifiy. She could have wasted that guy in the middle of the night at any time, because come on, she lived in his freaking closet. Someday if I have kids and they want me to check their closets for monsters, I'll humor them. But I'll really be checking for middle-aged Japanese women. Hell, I'm gonna go check my closet right now.

'Til later.

Edit: Ninajs+1

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New or The Same?

Oh Brave New World that has such people in it!

Welcome to the grand opening of my newest project, which I will attempt to update fairly frequently. This blog is meant as a supplement to my livejournal (although I'm not going to link it here...if you know where/what it is, then you're meant to; if not, those writings are not for your eyes!). This blog will be (hopefully) lighter and definitely more public. I intend it to be a medium through which I will keep in touch with and perhaps entertain friends and family, though if things go well I invite you to share it with whomever. I'll be posting articles, pictures, links, news, etc. that I find amusing or noteworthy, and I invite comments, feedback, etc. Once I go over to Japan, I'll be sharing those experieneces as well.