Friday, October 31, 2008

Master crafters we.

Well, here we are again. Last Halloween we didn't do much, owing mainly to the fact that we had only been here for a month. We got exactly one trick-or-treater (a surly teenager drawling, "Can we have some candy?" Fuck, no, son). We made a couple of tiny jack-o-lanterns (lit from within by LULZ Hanukkah candles). This year, though, we have friends! We're going to a party over at Chris's house. (Attentive readers will recognize the name as belonging to a real live hero.)

Katie has created her very own homemade Hello Kitty mask (drawing on this woman's template). No pictures yet. Those will come tomorrow.

I don't plan on being as creative. (I'm currently thinking something along the lines of a punnish 'cereal killer.') My creativity manifested in a, shall we say, more organic way. BEHOLD!
From Halloween 2008

I was sick and tired of seeing all the fantastic lanterns people were making by scraping the skin off the pumpkins. I wanted in. So, I printed off images of Paper Mario and Hello Kitty, got out my trusty pushpin and screwdrivers, and two and half hours later, voila.
From Halloween 2008

We also made a regular jack-o-lantern each. (Mine is on the left, Katie's on the right.)
From Halloween 2008

The Kitty and Mario are on opposite sides of the same pumpkin. I think they turned out pretty well for a first try ever.

Since you've all clamored to see more of our worthless neighbours, here's a video of Vinny from New Year's Eve wearing Chris's girlfriend's robe. Note Danielle falling down on the left.

These are the people I associate with. Christ Jesus.

Mega Man!

We're getting a new computer today, a nice little Macbook White. Katie is thrilled, and I am eager to fiddle with it.

Also, on a topic entirely unrelated to super secret project you cannot know about (yet), I am going to try my hand at the World of Warcraft. I got a free 14-day trial when I bought my copy of Starcraft, so I'm going to give it a shot for the next two weeks. If any of you out there in the intertubes play this game, e-mail me and let me know what faction and server you're on, and perhaps I can follow you around and steal all your loot we can do some quests together.

Okay! Happy Halloween!

Now fuck off.

Love, Adam
And I've got the scars to prove it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I never cared much for democracy, anyway.

And it's a good thing. Because otherwise I might get all pissed off about, you know, being disenfranchised. See, last July marked five years since I left Canada to go to Taiwan. Apparently, any Canadians that have not lived in Canada for five years are ineligible to vote in elections. (It used to be that if you at least returned for a visit, you maintained your eligibility, which would put me in good standing.)

I think that's bullshit. I don't pay taxes in Canada, but neither do many students over the age of 18, as well as people who are unemployed or otherwise tax-exempt. It's not like the Americans are going to let me vote in the upcoming election just because I pay taxes here.

I remember when I was in Taiwan, my friends from South Africa would say, "South Africa has gone so politically-correct that even our prisoners are allowed to vote." I thought that was crazy. Well, haha, joke's on me, because guess what I found out this morning while I was screwing around on the internets? Yep. Inmates in Canadian prisons can vote, too. Which is fine. If that's the law, that's the law. I understand how it contravenes their human rights to deny them the right to vote. What I kind of have a problem with is the fact that convicted serial killer/rapist Paul Bernardo has more of a say in who gets elected to lead my country than I do. That's not okay.

At least I can take some small comfort in the knowledge that the riding I would have been voting in (St. John's East) was handily won by (former provincial NDP leader) Jack Harris, so my vote would not have affected this particular outcome.


Sigh. Anyway, it's been a slow week. I've started doing some work on a super-mega-secret (awesome) project that I cannot tell you anything about. Yet.

Christmas is coming.

The Murkans are nearing climax in this frothing orgy of rhetoric that claims to be an election. A neat side effect is that people trying to sift through the mounds of lies and half-truths can play Truth Invaders to chip away at the lies (from both Democrats and Republicans). Fun and informative.

Also worth checking out: the immaculately-titled Brokers With Hands on Their Faces Blog.

Here are two videos from Funny or Die (the website that brought us Will Ferrell's Pearl McKay videos and Paris Hilton's hilarious political ad). These kids took "Take On Me" and "Head Over Heels" and re-dubbed them with literalistic lyrics. I love it.
See more funny videos at Funny or Die

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Mega Man 9 update: I'm stuck on Wily's Castle. The laser/lava things keep blowing me up.

Slow week! That's all I've got! Thanks for stopping in!

Now fuck off.

Love, Adam
Well, technically, we're a constitutional monarchy.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What's so civil about w... nnngh, I can't do it.

Hi! I've been meaning to talk about this for a while now. When Jessica and Vincent were here, Vincent mentioned to me that Marvel Comics' big crossover event from 2006, Civil War, was worth checking out. So I did. I read every single comic in the crossover. There were 7 comics in the Civil War series, and then just about every other Marvel series published during those months tied into it. Civil War reminded me firmly why I stopped reading most comics in the first place: because most comics are fucking shitty.

It's a real shame, too, because the ideas at the heart of Civil War were excellent. It starts off with the deaths of hundreds of innocent people in Stamford, Connecticut, an event which quickly spirals out of control as the public turns against superheroes, with Iron Man leading a pro-registration faction, and Captain America leading the resistance. Great premise, but somewhere along the line, a bunch of comic-book writers got their hands on it and fucked it all up. The simple truth of the matter is that for every Joss Whedon, Jeff Smith, or Neil Gaiman, there are innumerable writers who grew up reading X-Men and little else, who find it impossible to assemble a coherent narrative. Given the stark limitations of comic books as a medium (i.e. dialogue must be short and concise, tone is set by the illustrator more than the author, stories must be hacked into 25-page chunks, etc.), it's no surprise that I found myself reading the same regurgitated, imbecilic arguments over and over throughout the series. (It was almost like reading fucking Atlas Shrugged again.) Related is the simple fact that nobody in the Marvel universe is capable of ever changing their minds, apparently, except (of course) for Spider-Man, who waffles back and forth between the two sides like the wishy-washy "conscience of Marvel" that he's been twisted into.

On the plus side, Deadpool has somehow become Marvel's best character. Awesome. I love Deadpool.

Final Score: 0 Fuck Civil War. Fuck it in its stupid ass. Go read anything else. Except Atlas Shrugged. Go read, like, Tigana or something.

Staying on the topic of Marvel for a moment, though, here's a new, very pretty trailer for Spider-Man: Web of Shadows.

I can't wait to get a PS3 so I can play this thing. I know there's a Wii version coming out, but, let's be honest, it probably won't be as good.

Look at these guys. These are our new neighbours, Vinny and Danny, and their girlfriends, Danielle and Christine (who are sisters). They moved in a couple of months ago, replacing the lady we called "Mom of the Year" for her habit of allowing her two very small children to stay up until midnight. The seemingly-random, um, gentlemen callers might have had something to do with that, too. And she a sixth-grade teacher. For shame.

Anyway, the boys took us out to a haunted house in a place called Bayville a couple of weekends ago. It was organized in a firehouse by the local fire department, and I must say, it was quite good. Katie screamed and screamed, and I laughed and got startled a couple of times. A lot of the people would hide in plain sight in these tiny, cramped corridors, dressed like a prop skeleton or something. Then they would jump out at you. It was really fun.

This guy here, though. Man. Creepy. He was hanging out near the entrance with his razor blade, and blood all over the place, and he just stared at you. Never cracked a smile, or said anything. Just held this perfectly neutral serial killer look the whole time. That's some self-control right there. He got Katie by walking up behind her when she was talking to us, and he tickled her with his razor blade. She jumped and yelled, "FUCK!" (Forgetting that there were kids nearby.)

Speaking of scary, though, how about some zombies? Vincent sent me a link a while back to something called "The Outbreak", which is this interactive short film about a zombie infestation. It sort of plays out like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, in that you watch a couple of minutes of action, then you're faced with a decision. Obviously some choices are better than others, and many of them are morally ambiguous, which I really like. I was going to post the trailer, but it doesn't do a good job of showing off the film. I played through a couple of choices there a little while ago, though, and I must say I think it's pretty cool. Give it a shot and let me know how you do.

I found a few new time-wasters on the internets. Shore Siege is a fun, cute little defend-the-pirate-ship game, and Warfare 1917 is kind of the same thing, only with tanks and soldiers set in the Great War.

But game of the week goes to Don't Shoot the Puppy. (Actual screenshot at left.) After hitting "START", touching any key on your keyboard or moving the mouse causes the gun to fire, obliterating the puppy as he prances merrily towards the finish line. The key is to hold your murderous impulses in check as long as possible. I only lasted three levels, but I was trying it out here at work, and I can't afford to invest the time necessary to get the puppy to the double-digit levels.

One thing I've never understood about kids today is their propensity for using the word 'gay' to mean 'stupid.' "That's so gay." I don't get it. 'Gay' means one of two things: 'happy' or 'homosexual.' It does not mean 'stupid.' (And don't give me any of that objectivist bullshit about how "if that's how people use it, then that's what it means." We're not talking about people saying 'OMG' in conversation here, we're talking about taking a word that a large number of people identify with and making it into an insult. It's not linguistic evolution here, it's fucking hate.)

Which is why I'm glad to see that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) has started a series of ads targeting this misuse of the word. This one, by comedienne Wanda Sykes, is hilarious. (There's another, starring Hillary Duff, which packs slightly less punch, but is commendable nonetheless.)

So do your part and correct people when they say shit like that. Most of the time, it's people you know anyway, and most of the time, it's young people who don't know what they're saying and are easily cowed if confronted.

Parting shot today is a hilariously out-of-context screenshot I took while playing Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations on my DS last night.

Oh, Edgeworth, you're so funny.

Oh, and since so many of you expressed concern about my progress in Mega Man 9, I'm happy to inform you that I've since defeated all the robot masters and am currently launching an assault on Dr. Wily's skull-shaped castle. All is right in the world.

Now fuck off.

Love, Adam
What we've got here is... failure... to communicate.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I used to be good at video games.

Jeepers creepers. So I went ahead and downloaded Mega Man 9 on my Wii. A couple of days earlier, I played through one of the five best games of all time, Mega Man 2 on my NES emulator on my DS. Blew through the game in about two hours total while riding the subway to and from work. I see that my choice of the Mega Man game I am most familiar with was setting myself up for disappointment.

See, I've played Mega Man 2 so many times that I know all the levels by heart, and I know precisely which Robot Masters to tackle in which order. (For reference: Metal Man, Wood Man, Air Man, Crash Man, Bubble Man, Heat Man, Flash Man, Quick Man.)

But playing Mega Man 9 is like being eleven again.

I... I can't beat it. Seriously. The first time I fired the game up, I played for nearly two hours. I tackled every level, and I never once even caught sight of a Robot Master. I couldn't even reach the end of one single level.

The second day, I finally met my first new robot master (Galaxy Man). He trashed me. Utterly.

The third session (last night), allowed me to glimpse my second robot master (Magma Man). I also belatedly discovered what all the fucking screws I had been picking up were for. (Read the instructions, I know, I know.) The screws are the game's currency, and can be used to purchase things like extra lives and energy tanks. OMFG. So I went ahead, grabbed a pile of energy tanks (after first wasting 200 screws on a new god-damned outfit for Mega Man's sister, Roll), and proceeded to teach Magma Man a lesson in humility. I followed that up with a sound thrashing of Galaxy Man, and boom, I'm back in it.

The problem is, it's not just the order of the levels that's tricky. The levels themselves were designed by the most sadistic game designers in the world. Take this part of Magma Man's level where you have to jump to the ladder. Looks like he's going to make it, right? Only problem is, the jump is impossible. The only way I've been able to reach the ladder is by purposely getting hit by that little grey fucker down there, so that the lava doesn't kill me, then running on the lava to jump to the ladder. What. The. Fuck.

I don't have the time or expertise to take videos of myself playing the game, but I was able to find a couple of videos on youtube that effectively demonstrate the myriad ways you can die in the game. Trust me, there are no spoilers in these videos. I assure you that I have, in fact, died in every way illustrated, and when/if you play Mega Man 9, you will die in these ways, too.

Suffice to say, Mega Man 9 is BITCH-HARD.

Final score: 10. I love this game.

So. I guess some of you have been following the riveting soap-opera that's been passing for the American presidential election these days. Katie and I, having shunned cable television lo these many years, joined our less-TV-immune neighbours for the town hall debate between Obama and McCain the other night. Highlight of the night: McCain derisively pointing to his opponent and calling him "that one." Hilarious. I checked the internets the following day, and sure enough, my first search produced three separate sites selling "That One '08" t-shirts. (The number has now ballooned to the dozens.) Caplitalism at its finest.

Speaking of Christmas presents for Adam capitalism! Namco is offering a "Pac-Man Plush-Head." This would constitute the entirety of my Halloween costume. (Along with hysterically shrieking, "HELP! PAC-MAN ATE ME!" every few minutes.)

Sighted at the Met grocery store: imported luxury beer. "Imported daily from Canada." At the steep price of $1.29 per can, I was forced to shoulder the financial burden of enjoying the taste of home. Now if we can only get some Old Stock...

Confusing and slightly off-putting: in order to get that ludicrous bailout package approved, lawmakers added $110,000,000,000 (yes, 110 billion dollars) in what is called "pork" to the package. Pork is essentially bribes; apportions that favour a particular person or group in order to give that person or group an 'incentive' to support the package. Some of the weirdest provide tax exemptions for a particluar kind of arrow used by child archers and some kind of tax/depreciation loophole for the owners of motor speedways. I honestly am no closer to understanding this country. (To be fair, the pork also includes a large amount of money and tax breaks for green energy, which is, needless to say, long overdue.)

So there's this game called LittleBigPlanet that's coming out soonish for the PS3. One of the major draws of this obscenely-cute but otherwise fairly-typical platforming game is the availibility of user-created content. Utilizing a vast array of user-friendly tools, just about anyone can hop in and make a level. The game has been "in beta" (meaning that it's not for sale yet, but some people are playing it to help test and get the bugs out) for a while now, and the amount of user-created content is already baffling. The one creation that really got my attention was the one below. It's just a simple difference engine (basically an adding-subtracting machine), but when the camera pans back to show the shockingly complex system of pulleys, magnets and yarn that allows the machine to function, one can only shake one's head in astonishment.

I shall have to get a PS3 soon.

Local News: One of my new New York friends, Chris, recently read an article in the Daily News about a woman who had scattered her father's ashes on the pitcher's mound at Shea Stadium. Now that the stadium is being torn down, the woman approached the Mets (baseball team) and asked if she could have a bit of the dirt from the mound as a memento of her father's passing. She was refused (citing safety reasons), and Chris, who is currently working at Shea dismantling the bleachers, acquired a bit of the dirt and gave it to the lady, attaining his fifteen minutes at the ripe old age of 26. Can we have a round of "awwwww"?

International News: A man in Cambodia who wanted a divorce from his wife "because his wife wouldn't tend to him when he was ill" took the novel approach of actually cutting their house in half and taking his share away. Words fail me.

Now, you know I love many of the internets. I love the video internet, and the information internet, and the prOn internet. But occasionally the world wide web tosses up something so wonderful, so spontaneously ridiculous, that I have to stop and marvel at its magnificence.

I present to you such a thing. An innocuous article from Wired about an organism found deep in a South African mine that is essentially the one-man-band of the biological world. But the great thing about it is not the article itself (which is as perfectly perfect as any Wired article can be), but the comments thread which follows it. Hundreds of people took a simple misspelling from the very first comment ("Maltian" instead of "Martian") and spun it out into a golden tale of the kingdom/planet/religion of Maltia. And all in less than a day. This thing has "next internet meme" stamped all over it. (Which I guess is a lot like saying that my next breath has "Adam's next breath" stamped all over it, internet memes being roughly as common as my individual inhalations.)

Well, I guess I'll leave you now with this wonderful, wonderful video from Gametrailers. It requires no explanation, merely a childish gasp of glee and a quiet prayer of thanks that I don't have to try and buy a Wii this holiday season.

Now fuck off.

Love, Adam
Mike Tyson is a rapist and will never ever ever ever be in a Nintendo game ever again. So stop saying that it 'won't be the same' without him.