Archive for December, 2009

Caroling… Confusion

This afternoon my wife and I went to the grocery store to pick up some things for a party we’re attending. The store’s sound system had Christmas carols playing, specifically It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I like the song, but there’s one lyric that stumps me every time I hear it:

There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Christmases long, long ago.

Parties…check. Marshmallows…check. Caroling…check. Snow…check. Ghost stories…ch-wait, WHAT? Ghost stories?! Who tells ghost stories at Christmas? Of course, we all know of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with its ghosts of Christmas, but that isn’t exactly a scary ghost story. I guess I missed the one about Rudolf the Red-nosed Zombie. I didn’t realize that “…all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” was because Santa wiped them all out, even the mice. I guess that Twelve Days of Christmas is really about a stalker sending his subject a lot of really strange gifts, and the Carol of the Bells takes on new meaning when it’s sung by a person in an asylum. Ding, dong, ding, dong…

What about you? Any scary ghost stories find their way into your family’s Christmas traditions?

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Foosball Frenzy! 2009

Last night The Razor and Prof. K had their annual foosball smackdown to benefit Mission Waco. Great fun was had by participators and spectators alike. Since a first grader beat me at foosball over the Summer, I decided to sit this one out and enjoy the view from the sidelines. There were some epic matches and a whole lot of not-so-epic matches. In the end, the Profs. whupped their students, amassing an impressive 22-2 record over the course of the evening. If you haven’t had the chance to see Prof. K do his thing, you’re missing out on a thing of beauty. Apparently he has his own foosball kit that he brings to bring the table up to his standards, and when he works it, it’s a thing of beauty. Check out this clip I managed to capture:

As previously mentioned, the dynamic duo only lost twice. Students tried a variety of tactics to defeat the Profs., including hurling insults at them, like “100:1 is a reasonable and logical sentencing ratio!” and “Easterbrook’s UCC analysis is flawless!” But their insults fell on deaf ears as the profs. cut through swaths of challengers like butter. Only legitimate foosing skill could defeat them. That, and a little bit of luck. Like this shot, which was the game winner in their first loss.

Good times!

(Mis)Adventures in RSS Feeds

The RSS bookmark is one of the more useful browsing tools invented in recent memory. For those that don’t know, RSS feeds allow you to subscribe to oft-updated online sources such as blogs, newspapers, etc. You can use readers, such as Google Reader to aggregate a bunch of blogs and organize them any way you choose; then you go to the reader and see one big list from your blogs, starting with the most recent post. Some web browsers take it a step farther and allow RSS bookmarks. Take one of those aggregated feeds, turn it into a bookmark, and you have a drop-down “blogroll” of all the latest posts on your favorite blogs. So, when I click the bookmark, I will then scroll down to the last unread post (posted in reverse chronological order) and enjoy some blogging goodness.

Last night my RSS bookmark produced a fairly humorous result. When I clicked on it, I noticed the following two posts stacked next to each other:

Remember, they’re in reverse chronological order, so I saw the “Favorite Song” post first, followed by “Macarena.” Thanks for the suggestion, Blogroll, but I’m not sure that Macarena counts as a “song.”

Reliving My Childhood

This past week I received the movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in the mail from Netflix. I went against the recommendation of many critics and my own better judgment and watched it this weekend. It was, unsurprisingly, ridiculous. The plot was fairly predictable and formulaic: evil/maniacal/demented mastermind plans to control the world and steal lots of money by creating a global panic and fear of his terrifying new technology (here: nanomites. The horror!). Bankrolling the plot is the Scottish arms dealer whose family history creates a deep loathing for all things French. Throw in a master of disguise, a ninja assassin, and a jilted lover and you’ve got yourself an evil organization to rival the Brotherhood of Mutants! Enter the “Joes,” an elite multinational unit (because “a real multinational hero” has a much better ring to it than “a real American hero”) that is only thing that can save the earth from enslavement by the Cobra organization (which, if I recall correctly, isn’t actually named until the very end of the movie). Things play out as expected, with a major setpiece battle set in Paris (even our city destruction has international flair) then another underwater. As mentioned before, the plot was predictable. The dialogue was campy, the jokes were heavy-handed, the CGI was often weak (though the Eiffel Tower scene was impressive), and real character development was nonexistent. Make no mistake, I don’t recommend it to anyone. It felt completely overblown.

And totally awesome.

About midway through the movie I realized that for all its awfulness, I couldn’t help but love it. You see, I grew up playing with the G.I. Joe action figures. Next to Star Wars, I played with G.I. Joes the most. My childhood friend Will and I would spend countless hours in our backyards and homes creating outlandish scenarios for the toys, with characters switching allegiances and new factions emerging in each game we came up with. We’d have our own setpiece battles, but instead of an Eiffel Tower we had the living room recliner. Instead of the Sahara, we had the sandbox and the creek behind my house. As I watched this movie, I realized that I loved it because it was exactly the sort of situation that Will and I would come up with during a sleepover. That revelation freed me up to enjoy the movie for what it really was – the on-screen realization of a 9-year-old me’s imagination. I didn’t care if the dialogue was bad because so was Will’s and mine (we were 9 and 7). I didn’t care if the plot was outrageous because so was ours. I didn’t mind if they killed off a character or two, because that happened countless times in our scenarios. You can always invent a way to bring a character back to life. It may be outlandish, but hey, this is a 9-year-old’s universe. For two hours it took me back to the no-win situations that Will and I created on our living room floors. For two hours I was a kid again. Because of that, I loved it.

Introducing FarmLife Patch Sorority Wars!

If you’re on Facebook, chances are you’ve gotten an invitation to one of the game applications that have proliferated over the past several months. If you haven’t, you will. They are coming for you, and they are legion. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you accept the request that you’ll be free of the annoying invitations, either. Once you add an application, the “invitations” morph into “gifts” that you can use inside the games. Every single Facebook friend that plays the game can send you these little “gifts,” and trust me, they will. Build a farm! Send your friends trees and flowers! Build a mafia, send your friends loot! Build a sorority, send your friends, uh, diseases? It’s incredibly annoying. But the fact is, these games aren’t going away. Zynga, one of the big boys in the social media gaming space, has an estimated $200 million in revenue this year, and EA purchased PlayFish for somewhere between $275 and $400 million. Never doubt the ability of an annoyance to make ungodly sums of money.

These companies would make things much easier for everyone if they would just combine all of these games into one giant mega-game that combines all of the different concepts. It could be awesome. You are a lowly farmer, given a small patch with which to grow your sorority. You must cultivate and grow your sorority sisters with tender care and affection, up until the point that they are ready for harvest. Once the sisters are primed, you can expand your patch and purchase different buildings with which you train your sorority sisters for war. Amass your sorority army, then invade other players’ patches, plunder their weapons and gold, and capture their untrained sisters for your own nefarious purposes. Connect with your friends and build alliances so that you can work together to create the ultimate sorority utopia! As your friend network grows, you gain access to new weapons, advanced sorority sister seeds that you can plant and grow, and even have your friends help with the planting and harvesting of your sisters! Wouldn’t it be great?

At least this way the rest of us would only have one set of invitations and “gift requests” to deal with.

New Blog Alert!

The good people over at clark alerted me to a little gem over on Above The Law regarding some joke motions that are absolutely hilarious. You should absolutely go read this post. I won’t reproduce the whole article or the motions but leave it to you to go check them out (and you REALLY should), but here’s my favorite snippet:

However, given that the Prosecutor in question also (a) has a Ukranian law degree, (b), has no clue what he’s doing, and (c) sometimes forgets his pants, an English accent is the only advantage the State has when he’s trying a case.

Now go read it. Some of the comments complain about the lack of professionalism, but I think it accurately reflects the generally positive relationships maintained between prosecutors and defense attorneys.

As for the new blog, the response to the joke motion was written by the author of the blog D.A. Confidential. The blog purports to be the work of an Austin Assistant District Attorney and consists of general information about the work of a D.A., information on the types of cases that the author is trying, and a weekly post on interesting literature. He keeps things general enough so that he won’t get in trouble for talking about the specific facts of cases that aren’t already public or the people that are being tried. Though I haven’t spent a lot of time reading through the archives, it looks to be a very promising blog! Go check it out.

Four of These Things Are Not Like the Others

Today while surfing Netflix I came across this gem of recommendations. Apparently because I liked This is Spinal Tap and Amadeus, I’ll like A Christmas Story, Roxanne, Arthur, and Tootsie. I’m not exactly sure how Amadeus and Spinal Tap relate in the first place, but even assuming that they do, how do you get those four movies? I’m at a loss to explain it.

Normally, I find the Netflix recommendation algorithm to be fairly accurate at predicting my tastes. Who knows, it just may be that Spinal Tap + Amadeus = Me Loving Those Movies. There may be some odd correlation that Neftlix’s sophisticated prediction system has picked up that has eluded me. It’s entirely possible. I mean, I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen Christmas Story and Roxanne and liked both, I just never realized that I liked them because I liked the combination of Amadeus and Spinal Tap. If someone has figured it out, please, enlighten me!