Holiday Potpourri

So, posting has been nonexistant rather than light the last couple weeks. Sorry for that. Work has been keeping me busy, and I’ve been doing a bit more to get caught up around here – not to mention the holidays busyness. In addition to that, politics has just been depressing lately, as have local sports, so I haven’t felt much like writing on said topics, which left me without obvious source material. That said, I’m back to give a quick update on what’s going on in the world of me.

The Cardinals have lost 4 of their last 5 games and now look like a team that doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs. I’m hoping they come back and prove me wrong tomorrow against Seattle, but I’m not holding my breath. If we don’t shape up, it will be a quick first round exit for the boys in red. The Suns lost on Christmas day to the Spurs on a heartbreaking buzzer beater three, and the Celtics have now lost two in a row to break their 19 game winning streak. So color me annoyed.

I also got Mass Effect for Christmas from my brother, but am reluctant to install it due to the draconian DRM scheme put in place by EA. I am not sure whether to look for a crack of some sort, or just install it into a virtual environment, but I’ll certainly update with results of whatever I decide to do there. I also got an iPod (yeah, I know) which will be the subject of its own post later.

I finally saw The Dark Knight – and while I don’t feel it quite lived up to the earth-shattering hype that it was given by my friends and the online reviews, it was a masterful movie. Ledger truly did give a brilliant performance, in that I didn’t even recognize him as the actor in nearly any scene. I felt that Aaron Eckhart’s portrayal of Harvey Dent was also genius, perhaps on par with Ledger’s Joker in the method of portrayal, although obviously not given quite as much screen time or opportunity in the script. But I really felt that Eckhart was Dent, and being so convinced is the mark of great acting. With that in mind I think the character and portrayal of Batman by Christian Bale was outshone by the masterful acting of Ledger, Eckhart and the ever-brilliant Gary Oldman (as James Gordon). The movie was less dark than was expected as well, which made it easier for me to recommend to my parents and more squeamish friends. While it’s certainly deserving of the PG-13 rating,  the violence was done in such a way that it was mostly kept off screen, and is thus easier to take. It’s a movie I can absolutely recommend, and strongly suggest viewing twice – it was much better the second time, for me.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Johnny Cash. The man was a genius. I’ve also been actually enjoying some Christmas music this year, which I normally don’t. I suppose that’s a good thing.

Christmas was a small, informal event in which my family got together, watched basketball, talked about life and God and the meaning of Christmas, and ate delicious foods. Exactly as it should be.

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful Christmas. Now go drink some egg nog or something.

And now for something more lighthearted

In a case of the courthouse funnies, this may be the best summary of a civil case I’ve ever heard:

In Libel Suit Against Simon & Schuster, Man Insists He Is Not A Douchebag

LAS VEGAS (CN) – A man claims Simon & Schuster defamed him in the book “Hot Chicks with Douchebags.” Michael Minelli says two pages of the book are dedicated to him illustrated with a photo, but the douchebag label is “false as it pertains to plaintiff.”

The site is also home to this gem:

The following is from a U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling called E.S.S. Entertainment 2000, Inc. v. Rock Star Videos, Inc. in which lawyers for the owner of a strip club claimed that the makers of the Grand Theft Auto video game infringed their trademark:

“ESS also argues that, because players are free to ignore the storyline and spend as much time as they want at the Pig Pen, the Pig Pen can be considered a significant part of the Game, leading to confusion.”

Imagine the kind of person who would buy, install, and begin playing a computer game and then just hang out in the game’s strip club.

Yes, a man without a life who doesn’t have a virtual life either.

Now imagine that person on the witness stand.

This is the kind of concept that makes reading appellate opinions so much fun.

Weekend Update

Been braindead with a nasty cold all weekend so I didn’t post anything. But I picked up Wrath of the Lich King on Thursday night, got it installed and let it patch, and rolled my Death Knight on Thursday night. I haven’t had so much fun playing that game since vanilla WoW and Molten Core. The class is fun and versatile, but keeps you thinking while playing. I hit 70 quickly and went to Northrend and started looking around and I must say I’m very impressed with what Blizzard’s given us so far. The architecture is different than what we’ve seen so far, the environments seem more lifelike and interactive, and the feeling of a war being fought around you is strong – NPC characters are engaged in combat everywhere you go. Even the usual “hack-n-slash” quests I’ve seen so far are improved by integration with other quests and good explanations – instead of the typical “go to a cave and kill 12 ogre warriors and 10 ogre mages” it becomes “raze the vrykul fortress and burn their barracks.” I’m really looking forward to trying out the new instances as well.

Also discovered this weekend the music of Zoe Keating, an avant cellist, and her One Cello x 16 project. It’s really quite interesting from a technology standpoint what she’s done with the real-time recording and layering when she plays live, but from a musical standpoint it’s simply beautiful music. I’ve found it to be very relaxing the last couple of days, and the absense of vocals keeps it from being a distraction if I have other things to do. If you’re not familiar with her work, I’d suggest checking out “Tetrishead” as a good representation (at least of what I have heard so far). She has several videos up on Youtube as well.

Also, my comment moderation system is having some issues right now, not sure what’s going on but hopefully they’ll be corrected soon. If your comment gets stuck in moderation land and you don’t see it appearing on the page after a few hours, blame WordPress and/or Akismet.

Good Old Games

I need to take a moment here to pimp one of my favorite websites: Good Old Games. The guys here are simply genius: they’ve taken their passion for classic games and put it to good use by creating a site that allows you to find some of your favorite old games, fully updated for use in XP/Vista, and download them DRM-free for $6-$10. What “favorite old games,” you might ask? Well how about:

And more… with any luck they’ll bring back the old Wing Commander games, Alpha Centauri, and maybe some of the old Sim games… and then I will never have to buy a new game again.  Although I’m not entirely confident about Wing Commander, seeing as EA bought out Origin back in the 90s and they’re not exactly a bastion of software freedom.

Random thoughts

So Rachel just jumped up another 3 notches in my book. Apparently she’s become a fan of Battlestar Galactica just a few short weeks after I did. I seriously am hooked on that show.

Broke out Civiliaztion II again, played a couple rounds, forgot how fun that game can be. Now if only I can find my Civilization 3 disc… or maybe I’ll just spring for Chronicles

And in the Reiser trial, Hans Reiser was found guilty of first degree murder.  I’m still thinking too many things don’t fit for this to be as cut-and-dry as it seems, but, the jury seems to think he did it. Hopefully his kids end up okay.