Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wii news

So we've got the Wii, and it's even better than I thought it would be. Ours only came with one remote and nunchuck, so we're stuck sharing. We found a second remote at GameStop, but no nunchuck. Seems the nunchucks are hard to come by.

For all of you Wii players out there looking for accessories, here's an early Christmas present for you: The UMKC Bookstore has, as of this afternoon, at least a dozen of each of the Wii remotes and nunchucks. We stopped by there after our cafeteria lunch today (which was very good - the food is great since last September's remodel) and behind a counter in the back, lo and behold, a gamer's paradise. There were Wii accessories and games, as well as games and accessories for the PS2 and XBox 360. I didn't see any PS3 stuff, but I didn't look that hard.

As for the games:

Wii Sports: I'm so glad the Wii came with this. It's a great introduction to the capabilities of the remote/nunchuck system, as well as a whole lot of fun. The Wii lets you create avatars that can look remarkably similar to yourself (or whoever you want), and it's fun to watch my avatar out there sliding across the tennis court to hit a difficult shot, or darting around the bases in baseball. My favorite of the games is bowling, but they are all a blast. Graphically, Wii Sports is rather elementary, but I think that almost adds to the casual feel of the Wii, and helps showcase the "play a quick game, go do something else, play another qick game" aspect.

Rayman: I L-O-V-E the Rayman game. It's just as much fun as I thought it would be. It uses the remote to its full potential, and I like the mini-game concept. If I want to commit to playing a game for a long period of time, I'll sit down to WoW. Otherwise, I love that I can walk up and play for a few minutes, then go do something else. The music Rayman is fun, and so are the costumes. Mostly, though, I like to hit rabbits with plungers.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion: I like the operation part, but I don't like the story scenes. Rather than voiceovers and animations, they went for a comic book look, with text that scrolls across the screen. It's corny, and while I like corny sometimes, I don't like corny and anime mixed together. It just comes across as cheap. For fifty bucks, I want voices, dammit! I also don't really understand the story very well - I'm only on chapter 5, but it seems like I missed something. That said, I think the integration of the remote and nunchuck is cool, and I almost think I could remove polyps on someone's pancreas, if I had some of the magic gel used in the game.

Need for Speed: Carbon: We got this one on Sunday, and took it back on Monday. I don't like games that make me figure out how to play them. If the game has a 30-minute tutorial, no thank you. The graphics were cool, and I liked the music a lot. I also really liked the voiceover work. I didn't like the way the car drove with the remote, though. It was impossible not to oversteer, and then more impossible not to overcorrect. Perhaps we could have mastered it with practice, but fuck that. I want to play and win NOW. We traded this one in on Cars, but haven't had time to play Cars yet. We'll probably crack that one open tonight.

The Sloth by Theodore Roethke

In moving-slow he has no Peer.
You ask him something in his Ear,
He thinks about it for a Year;

And, then, before he says a Word
There, upside down (unlike a Bird),
He will assume that you have Heard—

A most Ex-as-per-at-ing Lug.
But should you call his manner Smug,
He'll sigh and give his Branch a Hug;

Then off again to Sleep he goes,
Still swaying gently by his Toes,
And you just know he knows he knows.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Around the ‘net

Being that on vacation for six days, I'm just now catching up on my browsing. Here's some of the better finds:

Map of the world, according to Ronald Regan. For more map fun, visit strange maps.

The Wilhelm Scream - you've probably heard this a hundred times and didn't realize it.

Leslie Harpold’s advent calendar. A delightful way to count down the days to Christmas.

Potential Christmas idea - Zombie art! Braaaaaaaaaaaains!

On the Zune: "Avoid," is my general message. The Zune is a square wheel, a product that's so absurd and so obviously immune to success that it evokes something akin to a sense of pity...

Kottke on Wii - his impressions are the same as mine. It's love, baby.

The Hitch 50 guys successfully completed their 50-state journey, Alaska and Hawaii included.

Words of Dental Wisdom

Give a man some teeth, he'll eat for a day.
Teach a man to brush, he'll eat for a lifetime.

Odds and Ends

NOTE: I meant to publish this last Wednesday before I left for Thanksgiving vacation, but I forgot.

Our Wii is en route to our house, according to the UPS tracking information. It should be there when I get home from work tonight. I already bought this game because it reminds me those cute little bunnies in Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit:

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I can't believe it's already that time of year. We aren't brining a turkey this year - the thought of getting up in the middle of the night and putting my hands in a bucket of ice-cold turkey fixings does not appeal to me. I think we're having ham. As long as there is green bean casserole involved, we could have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I'd be happy.

Speaking of jelly, my mom made the best apricot preserves, apple butter and grape jelly I have ever tasted. Seriously, this stuff is sellable. I can't believe I never really realized what a fantastic cook she is, but damn near everything she makes is great. Her Christmas toffee and fudge are legendary. She also made raspberry-infused vodka. The verdict? It's freaking delicious.

We got our personal property tax in the mail. Holy shit, there goes Christmas. Why does this have to be due in December? Can't they mix it up and relieve some of the stress of the holidays by making it due in July or something? Get bent, TAX MAN!

We thought trying a dairy-free pumpkin pie sounded like a good idea. It wasn't. The pie had the consistency of pureed carrots mixed with too much corn syrup. As for the taste - well, imagine you made a pumpkin pie and instead of adding, let's say, cinnamon and nutmeg and vanilla, you added V8 and strained grass water and sadness.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday Afternoon at 1:30 - A Haiku

no no no no no
no no no no no no no
no no no no no

Salt and Pepper by Samuel Menashe

For Calvin Bedinet

Here and there
White hairs appear
On my chest--
Age seasons me
Gives me zest--
I am a sage
In the making
Sprinkled, shaking

The Emigrant Irish by Eavan Boland

With Thanksgiving less than two days away, I would like to point out that some of this poem makes me think of the pilgrims and their Mayflower journey, how they too would have "thrived on our necessities" and how we could not have survived their plight, let alone lived it.

The Emigrant Irish by Eavan Boland

Like oil lamps, we put them out the back —

of our houses, of our minds. We had lights
better than, newer than and then

a time came, this time and now
we need them. Their dread, makeshift example:

they would have thrived on our necessities.
What they survived we could not even live.
By their lights now it is time to
imagine how they stood there, what they stood with,
that their possessions may become our power:
Cardboard. Iron. Their hardships parceled in them.
Patience. Fortitude. Long-suffering
in the bruise-colored dusk of the New World.

And all the old songs. And nothing to lose.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

my first liveblog

this keyboard sucks. the truman library is fucking packed. people don't know how to follow directions. i'm number 345 and probably am waiting in vain. caroline's hand must be cramping like mad.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Light (rail) reading.

People Reading is a new blog that shows us what people are reading around San Francisco. The blogger sees people out and about (mostly on the BART train( and if they are reading a book, asks them about it. From the blog:

Over the past couple of months I've come to the conclusion that the main competition for books is not movies--it's iPods, cell phones, suduko, crossword puzzles, conversations, PDA's, laptops, children, daydreams, food, coffee, weekly magazines, newspapers, dogs, and knitting.

I'd do this around Kansas City, but there are several impediments to this, the biggest of which is that I don't use public transportation. Are Metro bus riders bibliophiles? I somehow doubt it. Maybe if the whole light rail thing happens, then we'll have a reason in this city to buy video iPods and read books in public. Also, do I really want to know what people read in this city? Would I be pleasantly surprised to discover a secret society of Edward P. Jones and John Hodgman lovers, or be neither shocked nor awed by the revelation that most of the readers in this town think James Patterson is fine literature, or worse, that Ann Coulter has some sort of rabid KC fanbase?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Random quotes.

"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." - George Sand

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." - Albert Einstein

"This thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down." - Mary Pickford

"Be careful how you interpret the world: it is like that." - Erich Heller

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people do that, but the really great make you feel that you can become great." - Mark Twain

Friday, November 10, 2006

What have I done?

This seriously makes me reconsider my recent decision to switch to Bank of America. I did so for purely financial reasons, but I'm kind of wondering if I sold my soul.

Head games.

A student of cognitive neuroscience at Boston University becomes a contestant on in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and uses his knowledge of the brain to advance.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006


"What is that you express in your eyes? It seems to me more that all the words I have read in my life." - Walt Whitman

Things I was happy about 4 years ago (and for the most part, still am).

  • Cadbury Creme Eggs

  • New episodes of Survivor (I haven't watched one episode this season)

  • My neighbors Sal and Maria, and their beautiful vegetable garden (They didn't have a garden last year or this past summer. Sal died from brain cancer early this year)

  • Being caught up with laundry (this is an ongoing battle)

  • David Sedaris at UMKC

  • Simpsons skies

  • White grape and peach juice

  • Hammy the hamster rolling in his ball (my in-laws pet hamster; he died two years ago)

  • Roy "playing dead" with Ralphie

  • Checking our wedding registries online to see what has been purchased

  • The Shelly voice from South Park

  • Hearty, grainy bread

  • Mr. Awesome's fried egg breakfast sandwiches

  • The sound of honking geese flying overhead

  • Bargains on formerly expensive sweaters

  • Andy Richter's puppy-lined jacket, because what good person doesn't love puppies?

  • Donnie Darko

  • Drinking lots of water

  • Really good hair conditioner

  • Automatic bathroom faucets

  • Paradise Grill's birthday dessert platter (this was one of my all-time favorite restaurants. It closed about 3 years ago)

  • Hand lotion scented with perfume

  • Mazda zoom zoom ads

  • Sade's songs

  • Taj Mahal Indian restaurant at 75th and Wornall (This place has a great lunch buffet, but I now think Swagat in Zona Rosa is my favorite)

  • Tofutti Cuties

  • The woman at Wal-Mart who asked her 6-month old child if it wanted cherry or grape cough syrup. She answered for it - grape (I really hate shopping at Wal-Mart and avoid it whenever possible)

  • Watching the Oscars to see what people wear

  • Drive-thru windows at pharmacies (I do mail-order now)

  • Wheat bagles with roasted red pepper hummus

  • Mom's teapot collection


Beautiful photographs of Kansas City by Brad Finch. The photographer has taken time to document the locations and even gives some great tips for getting the perfect shot.

I recently purchased a Fuji FinePix A700 digital camera to replace the old 5 megapixel Sony Cybershot. The Sony, as cool as it looks, takes terrible quick pictures. Every shot I took in NYC is blurry. Posed shots that I can spend several minutes focusing and adjusting turn out okay, but I want portability and speed. The Fuji takes excellent candid shots, even when moving. Plus, it was less than $175, and for a camera that I want to carry with me in my purse for those Kodak moments, that's a good deal. This is not to say that I will ever be even a decent photographer, but a good camera is a start.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

My November Guest by Robert Frost

My November Guest by Robert Frost

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
For they are better for her praise.

The tasteless and the touching.

"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you." - Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.

And here's an old favorite - Pooh Goes Apeshit. I'll never forget the havoc that was wrought when I posted that to the Usenet group back in 1995. But that's a story for another day.

Sonnet III by Edmund Spencer

Thou sovereign beauty which I do admire,
Witness the world how worthy to be praised:
The light whereof hath kindled heavenly fire,
In my frail spirit by her from baseness raised.
That being now with her huge brightness dazed,
Base things I can no more endure to view;
But looking still on her I stand amazed,
At wondrous sight of so celestial hew.
So when my tongue would speak her praises due,
It stopped is with thought's astonishment:
And when my pen would write her titles true,
It ravished is with fancy's wonderment:
Yet in my heart I then both speak and write
The wonder that my wit cannot endite.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Ya Rly.

Cartoonist goopymart has posted a brilliant Flickr set of illustrations based on net-speak.

I love this concept.

Souvenirs or postcards of landmarks held up over the actual landmark while a photograph is taken. Sounds complicated, but it's actually a great idea. My favorite execution of this was in the Village Voice from 2001, after the World Trade Center attack:

This is bliss.

There was a moment on Thursday evening when, sitting in the Schubert Theater, watching the cast of Spamalot sing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and being sufficiently filled from a dinner at Macy's Cellar Bar and Grill (where I dined surrounded by relics from Thanksgiving Day parades past), I realized that I was about as happy as I ever have been and I could not stop smiling. The only thing that would have made the moment more perfect is if Mr. Awesome were with me.