Thursday, May 25, 2006

Don't like the White House? Want to make a difference?

Three candidates for the House of Representatives have taken it upon themselves to start a call for the immediate impeachment of Bush and Cheney.

As this is a goal that I find myself in complete and total agreement with, I feel compelled to post a link to their site here.

The site is a simple form letter... you fill out your info, and maybe a comment about why impeachment is a necessity, and they'll send it out to all your representatives, as well as your local newspapers if you're CA-based.

It takes three minutes of your time to do, and who knows... you mght just end up a small part of a huge difference.

And there's my political editorial for the week.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I hate writing letters.

Recently, a friend of mine had a stand-up special debut on Comedy Central. I wanted to give him a call and congratulate him (his name's Kyle Cease, catch his special if you can, he's absolutely hilarious), but it'd been probably a year and a half since I'd seen the guy, and it was always through a mutual friend, so I didn't have any current contact info for him. I mentioned this to the mutual friend through an IM conversation (as we are too evolved to use those primitive devices some people call "phones" anymore), and she suggested that I drop him a note on MySpace.

After taking a minute to recall that MySpace actually has uses beyond being a child molester dating service, I agreed that this was a wise decision, looked him up, and found myself staring at MySpace's message form. A blank form, waiting for me to fill it with some wonderful musings on how much I enjoyed my friend's show.

You'd think this would be simple; all I needed to say was "Hey, been a while! Great show! Congrats!" Very easy, straight to the point. Problem is, you can't write that. It's too short, it amounts to nothing! What the hell kind of letter would that be? Something that simple would work as a comment, maybe... it would work perfectly in conversation, as the other person would immediately fill in the blanks, and stretch it out. But as a letter, it's crap.

So I started writing. Along with the "hey, been a while," I listed off a bunch of places we'd hung out, just in case he didn't remember. Of course, then I'm thinking, "am I treating this guy like he's got Alzheimer's? Or like he's such a star now, I don't register anymore, being one of the little people? Or do I look like I'm trying to seem incredibly important?" To offset this possible insult, I crack a couple jokes. Yeah, that's great. Cracking jokes to a comedian. Like everybody and their mothers don't barrage him with dumbassed comments all the time, trying to be funny.

(and yes, grammarticians, I know I changed from past to present tense during that last bit, I also wipe after I pee, what's it to ya)

All right, next paragraph. The congrats. This part's easy... "saw your show, it was great, congrats!" Okay, that's done... but now, I've said all I have to say. I'm left with nothing. No leadout, no final statement, no conclusion to my original hypothesis... god, how anticlimactic.

So now I've gotta make something up. I could always go with the easy out... ask a question, force him to continue the conversation... "How are things with you?" Simple, saves the need for an ending... only problem is, he's on the road all the time, and probably has tons of people writing to him through MySpace. So it's kind of rude to finish that way, like I'm expecting him to reply, and will be insulted if he doesn't. Okay, that's out.

Maybe I should end with the friend request? Cause he is, technically, a friend. But then it's still a little weird, because this is an out of the blue letter, so I'm just ASSUMING the guy remembers me, much less even likes me as a human being. For all I know, he could write back with something like "if you ever contact me again, I'm going to shit in a bowl of oatmeal, and create shoatmeal, and then I'm gonna forcefeed the shoatmeal to your cat while I rape it, and then I'm gonna slowly run over the cat's corpse, cause it'll be dead by then, killed by rape and shoatmeal, I'm gonna slowly run over the corpse with a Big Wheel out of spite, cause I don't like you," and after that, a friend request is a little pointless. So scratch that one also.

Ultimately, I end the letter with my name. And that's it. Pathetic.

Maybe it's my own fault, my own need to embellish that makes it so difficult to write a simple congratulatory note. But really, if someone wrote you a note that said "way to go!" and that was it, wouldn't you feel like there was something missing? Some emphasis, some extra oomph lacking?

I think the problem is that I know in my soul what I have to say, and anything beyond that is simply bullshit. All I have in me is one, fully sincere, "Congratulations!" There's no need for more, and yet there is, because that doesn't translate in a note. But what does translate is a bunch of wordage that I don't have in me.

I have issues like this with other types of notes as well. Like when someone passes a birthday card around, for all to sign. No one wins in that situation. First off, unless some hilarious thing just happened like a half-hour before the card was passed that works as a decent inside joke, you've really got nothing to say but "happy birthday." Maybe in caps, followed by an exclamation point, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!," to prove that you REALLY mean it, that you're SINCERE. Or if you're feeling all Joe Cool about it, you can write "B-DAY." Cause you live life in the fastlane, and you don't have the time to write out those four extra letters.

Ultimately though, you need to write something, and you have to think of something to write, but you better make it quick, because OTHER PEOPLE NEED TO SIGN THE CARD! They're WAITING! And hold on, PUT AWAY THE CARD, THE BIRTHDAY BOY/GIRL MIGHT SEE IT! Because they haven't noticed people passing a pen around all night, or huddled in corners trying to keep something they're writing in away from his view, and they'll be completely surprised upon receiving this card.

It's like trying to pee with someone staring at your crotch, yelling "DO IT! HERE IT COMES! LET'S DO THIS!" at you through a megaphone. Slightly unnerving, to say the least. But you have to take some time, because you have to read EVERY OTHER COMMENT, and make sure yours is as good if not better than what everyone else wrote. Which is why one should always feel sorry for the first person who signed the card, as their comment will end up being paltry and insignificant compared to everyone elses. In fact, they're lucky to still be friends with the birthday person by the end of the evening.

The worst thing about that card, however, as it is with all cards, is the immediate redundancy it forces a person to be a part of. I mean, there's a very good chance that a birthday card will probably have the phrase "Happy Birthday!" printed on it somewhere, isn't there? Meaning that everyone who writes that phrase on the card is just repeating what's already been said.

But cards force you to do that, and it's very unfortunate. Like a "Get Well Soon" card, for instance. I don't know if I've ever seen a "Get Well Soon" card that didn't say "Get Well Soon" right on the front of it. And that pisses me off, because they've taken the only thing you want to say away from you. I mean, what's left? "Good luck to ya!" "Try not to cough anything up!" "Could be worse, you could be dead!"

All anyone wants to say with a "Get Well Soon" card is "get well soon," but not only do they take that away, then they leave a giant blank space inside the card, forcing you to embellish, forcing you to come up with something ridiculous that just ends up making you look like a tool. But it's either that or leaving the space blank, which makes you an even bigger tool.

I suppose I should write a final statement here, but as I'm under no moral obligation to do so on this, my own blog, I'll just wrap up with one final sentence:


Ahh. Now that's a satisfying conclusion.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Visit To E3 (or, Wii the People)

That Coachella blog's still coming, hold your horses, people!

This past Friday, I was one of the few, the proud, etc., to attend the 2006 Electronics Entertainment Expo at the Convention Center in Los Angeles. I've been going for a number of years now, via a number of ways (usually through work, other times through super secret means that I cannot mention lest some innocents be slaughtered), and this was a year that I was especially excited about. Two new systems unveiled! Dozens of next-gen games to be played! Hot chicks in skimpy viking outfits hawking merchandise they know nothing about! What more could one want?

This year, one could want a LOT more.

For one, the booth babes were forced to wear more clothing while pretending they were there for more than a paycheck. But that's a miniscule issue.

What truly bugged me was just how little innovation I saw in the next generation of games, namely in the XBox 360 and PS3 categories (I'll hold off on the Wii for a bit). After all, look at the promises Microsoft and Sony were making:

"Immersive game environments, smarter A.I.!"

"Exciting new controllers!"

"HD graphics leagues beyond anything the current-gen games can offer!"

Here's what I saw:

Immersion and A.I.? Eh, about the same. Maybe bad guys ducked bullets a little quicker. And I'll admit, it was kind of cool how many of the objects lying around levels were interactive (random boxes and chairs easily blown up or picked up, etc.). But besides that, there wasn't much to make me truly notice a huge difference.

New controllers? Admittedly, this was a Sony claim only (again, I'll talk about the Wii in a bit). But in their press conference they made it seem like a rather big deal. In practice though, it's just the PS2 controller with some built-in gyros that make it act like a handheld version of the steering yoke on the old Star Wars arcade game. Decent concept, but a little wonky in practice.

HD graphics? Okay, I'll admit, the graphics on a lot of these games were quite beautiful, definitely much cleaner and crisper, much more detailed than what any current-gen console can offer. But now here's my issue with that:

Quick disclaimer: I'm about to get technical with screen resolutions and shit like that. If you don't know anything about the subject, you might want to read up on it before proceeding (here's a good place to start).

I, like most of America, currently own an NTSC television set that runs at 480i. While these next-gen graphics looked beautiful on the 1080i HD monitors they were previewed on at E3, they're gonna fall quite short on my TV at home, even through component inputs. And since these graphics are being tailored for that HD screen, they could very well look like a bloody mess on my set (skinny lettering looks beautiful in HD... on NTSC, it's almost illegible).

Now, as I mentioned earlier, the differences in gameplay between current-gen and next-gen games are pretty negligible. So unless I shell out the cash for an HDTV when I buy one of these new systems, there's really no worth in me upgrading right now. Especially when you figure that the systems themselves cost between $400-$600 (top-end price gets you a fully packed PS3 with a built in Blu-Ray DVD player... but again, without an HDTV, Blu-Ray is useless), add onto that the cost of an HDTV, and suddenly the only people that can buy all this shit are those still getting taxcuts from the Bush administration.

Oh, and did I mention the HDMI interface cable to connect the TV and game system, which is the only way to enjoy the full 1080i resolution, costs $100 alone? And that's a cheapie at Radio Shack.

So ultimately, a full investment into this next generation is going to cost around $2000. And that's before buying any actual games. Games that don't have much to offer in the way of innovation aside from better graphics.

Yeah, I think I'll wait a bit before making that investment. And somehow, I think a lot of people are going to feel the same way come Christmas.

And this is why I think Nintendo has the best chance this year with their new system, the Wii.

Yes, it's a ridiculous name. But it kinda sticks with you, doesn't it? Plus, it's fun to say. Just mouth it to yourself, right now. You don't even have to make a noise, just mouth it.


Hard not to smile, isn't it? Say it again. "Wii." Bet you smiled again, too. Unless you're a Nazi baby rapist or something. Bet you laughed when E.T. died also, you sick fuck.

Anyway, the Wii pales in comparison with Microsoft and Sony's systems. The graphics aren't HD, it has no built-in movie player (or add-on possibility), and it's got a weird new-fangled controller that senses movement.

On the other hand, who gives a fuck? The fact is, it's fresh, it's innovative, and it'll most likely be a couple hundred dollars cheaper than the other systems.

Admittedly, I probably shouldn't have a fully formed opinion just yet... I didn't even get the chance to LOOK at the thing during E3, much less play it.

However, the reason for this was that the line to get in the Nintendo booth to play the Wii was about three hours long, and never let up. People were lining up in droves to get to this thing. And when they'd emerge from Nintendo's booth, they were smiling, laughing, the lucky recipients of a good time.

I'd talk to a few people about their experience with the Wii here and there, and each time, I'd get the same reaction, an excited rambling of how cool it was using that weird motion-sensing controller as a bow and arrow, or how much fun it was trying to balance the thing in their hand like a broomstick to score points, or how well it worked when used as a gun in a first-person shooter. Someone remarked to me how well it worked when used as a steering wheel; someone else laughed about having to put it on their head so that the squats they were doing would register.

All over the showfloor this year, I got a sense of "been there, done that" from every booth, from every exhibitor and retailer I saw (except in Kentia Hall, where Engrish spawns from the dark orifices of Manga-nized kung-fu warriors selling wares from the deepest depths of Southeast Asia... in that area, I got more of a sense of "BIG NUMBER ONE IS FRUITY GOOD TIME! QUIZ GAME PLUNGES HERO YOU IN CHUNKY LOVE JUICE!"). But at Nintendo's booth was a real sense of awe and innovation. People were curious, they were intrigued, and most importantly, they weren't disappointed. If anything, I saw people who'd been laughing about the Wii when it was first announced last year suddenly changing their minds and saying, "Hey, Nintendo's got something here."

Ultimately, we'll see what happens. But it's my bet that come Christmas time, people all over the country are going to go to their friendly neighborhood Toys 'R' Us or Gamestop or EB or wherever they buy games, and see the PS3, XBox 360, and Wii sitting next to each other on the shelves. And I think most of them will be picking up the Wii. Sure, it'll probably be because of the INSANE price difference, but I think they'll also be intrigued by this brand new, yet incredibly simple concept Nintendo's brought to the world of gaming. I think they'll see that not only can hardcore gamers enjoy these games, but so can everyone in the family, so can the friends at the party, so can the kids in the cancer ward years after the fact when dad's cheap ass donates the old game system to them instead of making a real cash donation.

Fact is, the innovations offered by the XBox 360 and the PS3 are technical bells and whistles, most of them pretty useless to the general public at this time. What the Wii offers is something everyone can get into, namely, pure & simple entertainment.

Sony and Microsoft spent so much time trying to bring the future to us, they forgot to notice that most of us are still living in the present, and have a bit of difficulty connecting to that future with immediacy. Nintendo, on the other hand, went the other route, and decided to make the present as much fun as possible.


Monday, May 08, 2006

A Momentary Lapse of Writing

Hey, what's the best way to kill a blog?

How about post something that brings thousands of new IP hits to your site, links you to some of the big name blogs out there, and overnight, gives you a dent into the online community, and then, don't post ANYTHING ELSE FOR THREE WEEKS!

Yup, that's what I've done... brainiac that I am. But hey, I had no choice... a couple days after my last Kimberly post, I came down with a nasty flu, and had no interest in living, let alone sitting at a computer. Then came Coachella weekend, and after that... well, after that I've just been lazy.

But rest assured, I shall soon resume my random musings and mumblings, going-ons and what-nots. I apologize in advance to the people I offend.

Coming soon to this blog:

An in-depth wrap-up of my Coachella weekend, complete with pictures (provided I get around to uploading them)

Another in-depth review, this one of the floor show at E3

A pic-by-pic walkthrough of the video for the song "Can You Feel It" by The Jacksons

...and a whole plethora of surveys and rants and random bullshit.

Come to think of it, maybe it's best I wasted the opportunity to gain readers, I wouldn't want to browse this shit...

One thought to leave you with:

Hey, Bush apologists. Yeah, you people in that 31 percent who still think this administration's doing a good job, that there were WMDs in Iraq, that Iraq and 9/11 are somehow connected, that wire-tapping is necessary to prevent terror. Yeah, what's the other name for you people? Um... oh yeah... HEY, DOUCHEBAGS!

HOW THE FUCK CAN YOU CONTINUE TO STAND UP FOR THIS GUY?! Christ, you guys are worse than Cubs fans, I swear! I just don't understand how your brains are so small that they can't comprehend just how fucked-up downhill this country is going right now.

All I can do is create an analogy that will hopefully make sense in your "USA! USA! Remember the Alamo, mom and apple pie, I shoot immigrants" minds. And that analogy is this:

Would you have stood up for Hitler? No? How about Stalin? Hmm... Castro? Apparently, those are evil Nazis and Communists to you, aren't they? They represent everything wrong with politics to you, don't they?

Now explain to me where their propaganda machines were all that different from our propaganda machine. Tell me why their treatment of their people is so different from the treatment we've been getting.

Sure, you can argue that in Hitler's case, he was committing genocide... of course, there are genocides going on all over the world right now that our government has been COMPLETELY ignoring. Seems to me that by our own laws, when one has knowledge that cold-blooded murder is happening, yet does nothing to stop it or otherwise help prevent it, that's considered being an accessory.

Let's not forget the fact either, that our president led an attack on a sovereign nation (something Hitler did quite a few times). By international law, that makes him a criminal.

Jesus, here I was just writing an excuse for not being around, now it's turning into a real blog entry... yeah, that must mean it's time to go. But rest assured, I'll be back soon!

Quick reply to a comment: Hey Lindsay, long time no talk! Sorry I can't leave any real contact info here, but I've had enough of home loan and penile implant emails, and as these waters are trolled by bots constantly, I fear putting out any real personal information. Try looking me up through MySpace if you're on that shambles of a website... otherwise, I'll figure out someway to get in touch. Ciao!

(Good god, I just wrote "Ciao" as a signature, what a fuckin' retard)