December 19th, 2010 (08:22 pm)
I started this Livejournal on July 27, 2001. It's never really been my primary vehicle for online commenting, since I've usually had at least one other blog running at the same time. It used to be montykins.com, but these days it's Mysterious Exhortations.
I've only posted on this Livejournal account twelve times in 2010. The last one was five months ago.
It's time to face facts: this is the last post I'll make on Livejournal. It's been good ten years, but it's time to move on.
I'm still using this account for reading the few people I know who still post on LJ, but that number keeps shrinking.
1,362 Journal Entries, 272 Tags, 1 Memory, 100+ ScrapBook Files, 0 Virtual Gifts, 117 Userpics
See you on the Funway.
July 8th, 2010 (12:54 pm)
May 19th, 2010 (04:21 pm)
I love three things about this video.
First, I love when people are willing to be sincerely and unironically emotional about a television show.
Second, I love the culture of fan-made videos, and I don't see why someone can't do that for their own song if they want.
Third, I love how awesome this song is.
Look, even if you hate Lost or hate what Lost has become or whatever, this video's worth watching. Pretend someone had done this song about a show that you loved. This sort of thing is why it's worth living in the 21st century.
March 9th, 2010 (04:03 pm)
I got this today:
I'm excited to sit down and watch 20-30 hours of cutscenes! I make that joke because I played FFX for about four hours and controlled a character for maybe 15 minutes.
I'm pretty excited about this ridiculous weapon. It appears to combine a sword, a gun, the jaws of life, and possibly some kind of clockwork pliers arrangement.
February 27th, 2010 (06:47 pm)
I want to be able to roller skate backwards. I've always felt it looks pretty slick. So I decided I was going to put on my skates and some protective gear and go out to the playground behind our house and finally learn. There wouldn't be people watching me, the way I always feel there are at a rink. Watching me and judging.
So I put on my kneepads. I put on my elbow pads. I noticed the wrong wheels were on my skates, and I switched them out. I put on my skates. I started to put on my helmet -- and then it rolled forward out of my hands and bonked me directly between the eyes at the center of my glasses. So now I've got this going on:
Rhias thinks I might be getting a black eye, but I think it's just the poor lighting combined with the bags under my eyes.
Oh, and as soon as I got to the playground, I discovered that it was less smooth and more wet than I thought. So I got all tense and panicky and came home.
February 23rd, 2010 (04:00 pm)
Here's the cover of John Scalzi's "Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded":
I'm sorry, I lost interest in your message after the first paragraph and couldn't be bothered to finish it. No doubt it was very clever and devastating and if it makes you feel good, please consider me abashed or chagrined or whatever it was that you intended me to feel after reading your brilliant, scintillating words. In the meantime, let me congratulate you in your decision not to breed, as clearly a person of your qualitiess represents a full stop on the genetic paragraph; the evolution of your line need go on no further.
Verdict: Wow, what a fucking asshole.
February 18th, 2010 (09:26 pm)
I went out to Balboa Park today, because it is one of my favorite places in the world. That's mostly a result of this:
When I was but a youth, I was a part of San Diego Junior Theater. And that meant I spent a lot of time between classes screwing around in Balboa Park. Man, I love this place. I just walked around for a couple of hours thinking how happy and content I was.
I went down to the place I call the "country buildings", which were built for the 1935 exposition. I just enjoy the weirdness of having a building for China right next to Scotland.
There's an International Gift Shop in this section, which has handmade things made around the world. I bought a hippo that was made in Kenya. It's surprisingly heavy, and I think it'll look great in the Explorer Room.
I went to the Automotive Museum, which I've never been to before. There was a cute Nash Metropolitan!
There were a lot of cool cars there, as well as a great display of motorcycles going back to 1915. But my favorite car was Louie Mattar's Fabulous $75,000 Cadillac. Here's a selection of pictures I took of it, and now you know as much as I do.
That's a hookah. In the front seat.
Naturally, the back seat has an ironing board. Why wouldn't it?
The engine compartment has a lot of extra stuff. You know, for the automatic oil-change.
Does your car have a shower? Why not?
The car had a giant trailer, which you can see on the right here. It contained 250 gallons of gas, which sounds like the safest idea anyone has ever had. It also had the ultimate luxury:
A telephone? In a car?! Louie Mattar, you are crazy.
February 17th, 2010 (06:28 pm)
current location: San Diego Gaslamp Hilton
For some reason, when I travel I'm desperate to fill up all the time I have. I eat the best food I can find and I've always got my eyes wide open in case I miss something. Today, for example, I had a couple hours between arriving at my hotel in San Diego and going to a staff dinner. So I dropped my bags off at my room and then immediately headed out. I don't go to anywhere near this much effort when I'm at home.
Anyway, I was going to Old Town, which is where I spent a lot of my time in the mid-eighties. It's the site of Game Towne, which was My First Game Store. Then it was The Game Store Where I Worked. Then it became The Game Store Where I Quit, and finally The Game Store Where I Got Ejected From The Game Convention Unjustly. I haven't been there in about 25 years. And here it is!
I went in, and it was deserted. So I had time to nose around. To my disappointment, they've replaced the shelves I made, so I couldn't point to anything and say "I built this place!" But it looked pretty much the same.
After Game Towne, I walked down the street to Pizza Bella, which is My Favorite Pizza Place. Oh, man, you would not believe how much of their pizza I've eaten. Except, again, I haven't been by much in the last couple of decades.
It wasn't precisely as I remembered. They no longer serve individual slices, for one thing. They've gotten a bit upscale. And, of course, I'm not such a regular that I rate things like free carafes of Mt. Dew put on my table without asking. The pizza looks like this now.
It still tastes the same, though. Which means one bite filled me with nostalgia. Now I have to digest as much of it as I can, because in about an hour I'm meeting up with people to go to The Field, which is a place I only learned about in the last ten years. Mmmm ... shepherd's pie.
February 6th, 2010 (12:44 pm)
I just bought a bottle of vodka!
Okay, so that doesn't sound that exciting. Lots of people have vodka. But do they have vodka that looks like ... THIS?
This, of course, is Crystal Head Vodka. If you click on that link, you can see Dan Aykroyd talking about vaguely paranormal things in an attempt to associate this vodka with the crystal skulls that everyone complained about in that Indiana Jones movies. I was sad that I couldn't go to the Aykroyd signing at the Seattle liquor stores.
Basically, this is such a mish-mash of bizarre elements that I felt I needed a bottle for myself. And in the unlikely event that all the vodka gets drunk, I have a cool object to put other things into!
February 5th, 2010 (09:50 pm)
I've just finished reading The Gods and Mr. Perrin by Sir Hugh Walpole. It's also called Mr. Perrin and Mr. Traill, but this is the US title.
It's not really in print, but it was stored in a library at some point in the last 100 years and subsequently scanned, put on Google Books, then printed and bound on a machine at Third Place Books. So I have a copy. And it was great.
I think it's neat that I was able to read it. I also think it's neat that I can link to it here.
You should read it. It's really good. And then we can talk about it!
January 30th, 2010 (10:06 pm)
I'm reading The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History, by John Ortved. So far, I don't care for it.
I purchased it because a casual bookstore skim revealed that it was one of those oral histories I enjoy so much, like Please Kill Me and The Other Hollywood by Legs McNeil, or Live from New York or Second City Unscripted. You know, where the book is composed of quotes from interviews of People Who Were There.
Unfortunately, this particular author does not appear to have gotten the kind of access you need for this kind of book. So with no interview with Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Tracey Ullman, or most of the other key figures, there are a lot of quotes noted as being "New Yorker Interview" or "Season 3 DVD Commentary". That's not great, but it's something you can work around.
Or you can just shrug and have only about sixty percent of your book be the interesting oral-history stuff. The other forty percent you can fill in with boldfaced paragraphs that combine paraphrases of other people's interviews with editorializaion:
Matt Groening, on the Season 1 DVD commentary, remembers Jim Brooks's pronouncement, sitting there in the screening room, having seen the first episode, "This is shit." Brooks, on the same commentary, recalled Gabor Csupo's response being "Maybe this shit isn't funny," a line Brooks pointedly repeated to Csupo while they posed together for a photograph after the show had received its first Emmy. Brooks admitted that the comment was "small of me" but laughed it off, saying that he and Csupo now "hang out all the time together."
This last bit is actually not true, or what those of us outside Hollywood might call a "lie." By the time the first season DVD came out, in 2001, The Simpsons had long ago fired Gabor Csupo and taken much of the staf to their new animators, Film Roman. Jim and Gabor did not "hang out all the time together."
Okay, look. That's an interesting story. It would be even more interesting if one of the people involved in it had told it, as opposed to some guy I've never heard of shoving himself in with that "what those of us outside Hollywood" style of talking.
I'm hoping the later parts of the book have more stuff by principal actors, but I'm not hopeful.
January 24th, 2010 (08:45 pm)
The following are the books in the Little Bunnie Bunniekin series, published somewhere around 1920.
Little Bunnie Bunniekin
Little Lambie Lambkin
Little Mousie Mousiekin
Little Dearie Deer
Little Squirrelie Squirreliekin
Old Red Reynard the Fox
Hootie Toots of Hollow Tree
Flapsy Flopper of the Farm Yard
1) I am not making any of these titles up
2) There's a chance I enjoy Google Books a little too much
3) Some research reveals that "Flapsy Flopper" is probably a rooster
4) I'm actually really enjoying the Dick Prescott at West Point (and numerous related series) books.
January 2nd, 2010 (02:27 pm)
Okay, look. I'm going to explain, clearly and rationally, why it's okay that people say "It's the first year of a new decade". And why people who try to "correct" them are jerks. They're also wrong. You don't wanna be a jerk who is wrong, do you?
First, the argument for "the decade doesn't end until the end of 2010" is predicated on the idea that there is only one valid definition of "decade". The theory is that the first decade is AD 1 through AD 10, and then you just follow that for 2000 years. One problem with that is that there's no convenient way to describe, say, the Official Decade of 1981 through 1990. No one says "the 199th decade". That would be weird. It works for centuries because it's the same century for so long, but constantly updating the decade's number isn't going to happen. On the other hand, "The Eighties" rolls off the tongue. VH-1 didn't have "I Love the 199th Decade", did they?
Second, keep in mind that the calendar's whole basis is kind of sketchy anyway. Our current numbering system was invented in the year we now call 525 AD, by a monk called Dionysius Exiguus. "Year 1" was called by a variety of numbers at the time, but "1" wasn't one of them. So "the first decade" is strictly arbitrary. Especially since Exiguus got the starting point wrong by at least four years. That's what happens when you let a guy named after Dionysius calculate the year Jesus was born.
Third, and I'm surprised I have to go over this, a "decade" is any period of ten years. If people want to talk about the last ten years as "the decade", there's nothing strictly wrong about it.
Okay! That's why people are wrong. (And not "pedantic". You have to be correct to be a pedant) Now let's cover why they're jerks.
First, everybody's already heard your complaints. You made them ten years ago when people wanted to celebrate the new century/millennium a year before you. And they decided to dismiss them. Now, when your complaints are less valid, you're bringing them up again? Leave people alone and let them have their "Top fifty movies of the decade" lists in peace.
Second, even if you were right, and even if your complaints were fresh and new, it's still not good manners to snottily correct people. It's just a list of songs! You're not impressing anyone. And what do you think is going to happen? Here are three options:
1) The website pulls its enormous "Best of the Decade" feature off the website and then posts it again next year with a couple items from 2000 taken off and a couple from 2010 added in their place.
2) The website posts a big apology and everybody looks at your comment and thinks "Gosh! It's a good thing we have someone here to stop everyone having fun!"
3) Everyone ignores you because you're a jerk, except for a couple of people who happen to agree with you already.
(The correct answer is "3")
Third, shut up already.
Oh! And while I was looking things up to make sure I got my facts straight (a weird habit that I wish more people would consider), I discovered that Astronomical Year Numbering actually has a Year Zero. Astronomy is run by mathematicians, so they sensibly decided to have Year 1 be preceded by Year 0, and then Year -1 before that. So they're skipping the BC part altogether and running things on a properly mathematical line. So if you like, you can pretend that everyone saying 2000-2009 is a decade is working on Astronomical years.
December 31st, 2009 (04:07 pm)
2000: Working at Wizards of the Coast. I think this is when I moved back to Renton from the University District in Seattle. Participating in the Camarilla.
2001: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Started montykins.com with daily updates on January 1. Started this Livejournal account on July 27. Finally quit the Cam, since I was working most weekends. Got a new car, replacing my $500 Peugeot (which had developed a mysterious electrical fault) with a Kia Rio.
2002: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Resolved to eat the cuisines of twenty different cultures. Didn't quite get there, but the Bite of Seattle helped a lot. Started going to Bar Trivia Night with Eric Mead and Rhias Hall. We won a lot. I did a few one-shot Mondo Extra recaps for Television Without Pity, most of which aren't up anymore.
2003: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Became the top Google hit for "How to make Deviled Eggs" for awhile. A shakeup at work meant that half the people I worked with went to Upper Deck and I was put in charge of magicthegathering.com. Did a couple more Mondo Extras for Television Without Pity. Went to JournalCon in Austin and had an enormously good time. Montykins.com got nominated for two Diarist.net awards.
2004: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Moved to Capitol Hill and became roommates with Rhias. Went to JournalCon at Washington DC, and it was fun, but not as much fun as Austin. Right at the end of the year, Rhias and I started dating.
2005: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Went to New York for a nine-day vacation, which included a TARCon, seven Broadway shows, and the first two New York performances of Spamalot. Went to San Diego Comic Con, and discovered that there are way too many people there for me to enjoy it properly. Started going to roller derby. Went to JournalCon in San Diego. Was briefly Director of Online Media, but moved into a smaller job on the Magic website team.
2006: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Went to E3 and got bored immediately. Went to Disneyland for my birthday. Rhias and I moved to Lake City after our Capitol Hill apartment was turned into a condo. Went to roller derby all year, highlighted by the Bumberbout Invitational tournament. Stopped updating montykins.com
2007: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Rhias and I because Roller Derby Scorekeepers this year, and promptly renamed the scorekeeping team from "The Nerd Herd" to "The Lightning Fists of Science," which it's still called. Went on an Internet Press Tour of the Sci-Fi Channel's Vancouver shows, which involved touring the sets of Stargate Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica, Eureka, and Flash Gordon. Went to Austin for Roller Derby Nationals, which was a lot of fun except for the part where Rat City didn't win.
2008: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Started recapping shows for Television Without Pity. Got a new car, replacing my Kia Rio with a PT Cruiser. Went to Disneyland for a crazy week-and-a-half-long vacation. Went to San Diego Comic Con and stayed at the glamorous Hotel Del Coronado. Rhias and I moved to our current house in North Seattle. Went to Pro Tour Berlin. Also went to Disneyland for a one-day trip where we flew down in the morning and back in the evening. It was amazing.
2009: Working at Wizards of the Coast. Recapping for Television Without Pity. Played in and ran a couple of D&D games, but none of them really stuck. Got a Vespa LX 150, which is a lot of fun to ride. Went to Pro Tour Austin and enjoyed Austin a lot for the third time in a row. Let the hosting for montykins.com lapse, although I saved the actual updates.
December 24th, 2009 (05:22 pm)
current song: Mary Karlzen - (Not Just Until) The Season Ends
It is Christmassy as all get-out in here. Check it:
Merry Christmas! And also, Merry Every Other Holiday! Even the Ones That Don't Happen at This Time of Year!
November 29th, 2009 (07:47 pm)
Yesterday, the Seattle branch of the Aristocrats Scooter Club (me, tura, scalpel, and lampyridae) went to Smash Putt, a local art installation-slash-miniature golf course that was only happening for a few weekends.
The idea was that it was a deconstruction of a regular miniature golf course, with crazy industrial things going on. Here, for example, is me shooting a golf ball out of an air cannon at a disassembled piano:
Fun, right? Well, it might have been if I hadn't had to stand in line for 45 minutes to do that "hole". And the line was in a loud warehouse, while earsplitting music was played at us. And one of the staff members was wandering around shouting through a bullhorn. It would have been interesting if it were on purpose, but I'm pretty sure they just didn't put any thought into what a miserable experience they were creating.
We did most of the ten holes. A couple of them had mechanical problems, like the Golf Ball Ferris Wheel not actually rotating. Or the power saws on the last hole cutting out just when I got to them. This combined with the long lines (it shouldn't take two and a half hours for nine holes of Warehouse Miniature Golf) and hellish atmosphere to make me really not enjoy myself.
Here's what I think the basic problem was:
This hole required people to hit the ball up the narrow track and avoid the rotating clubs. The key was timing and precise speed. The first problem is that this isn't good miniature golf. It's basically random and doesn't feel like fun. The second problem is that it's not a good customer service experience. You stand in line for a long time, watching people aimlessly hitting the ball, and everyone takes the maximum number of strokes. Unless they didn't hear about the five-stroke maximum, in which case they keep swinging and the ball keeps falling off the track and it keeps getting handed back to them. The third problem is that I'm not even convinced this was art. The excuse for all the problems was "it's not miniature golf; it's an art installation". But it wasn't aesthetically pleasing or even all that interesting to experience. It didn't illuminate any aspects of the human condition, or any aspects of miniature golfing for that matter. This hole is just a somewhat sillier-looking version of a standard windmill hole. Blah.
However! There was one hole that involved riding a scooter! Here's scalpel pointing the headlight in my face and honking the horn while I tried to putt.
The back wheel is directly over a turntable, so when he leans back, it spins around. I think that's supposed to be the Arc de Triomphe. It's surprisingly worrying to have a headlight and horn going when you're trying to putt. I think more of that sort of thing would help out. Most of it, though, didn't work right by the time we got there. And I'm not sure whether "The K Hole" was working or not. Balls that went into the hole never came out again, which might have been a joke on purpose (but then where do you get balls to continue playing?) but seemed more like a poorly constructed ball-return system.
November 26th, 2009 (09:57 pm)
I defy you to read this sentence out loud without laughing:
At first I was baffled about the inclusion of Tony Stewart. But now I'm wondering why it's "Sammy" the Snowman. Is Frosty under copyright?
November 26th, 2009 (06:11 pm)
As with any American who was born in the second half of the Twentieth Century, I'm constantly worried about how hip I am. Am I hip enough? Could I be more hip? How can I tell?
Well, I have decided to use The A.V. Club to be the benchmark. They've conveniently generated a number of lists of the top books, videogames, albums, and probably other things of the decade. So let's see how many I've read, played, heard, or whatever, shall we?
15 Best Videogames: I did very well on this one. I played nine of the 15, including seven of the top eight. I'm up to speed on videogames, as you can tell by the fact that I spent almost all of Thanksgiving sitting on the couch playing Dragon Age: Origins.
10 Best Short-Story Collections: I've read ... none of them. I do own Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, but I've never gotten around to opening it.
The Best Books: Let's see, I read four of the ten nonfiction books, although I didn't actually like Freakonomics, The Tipping Point, or The Wisdom of Crowds. I should stop reading that whole subgenre, I think. I did really enjoy The Devil in the White City, though, as it combined H.H. Holmes and a World's Fair. I've read four of the twenty works of fiction on the list, and I have a couple more sitting around waiting to be read.
Top 25 Comics: Eight out of twenty-five. I'm the only person who hated All-Star Superman, by the way. Everyone raves about it, but I couldn't stand it at all. In "The Archives" section, I have four of five. And I have strong opinions about some comic strip archival collections they left out. Specifically, Popeye and Bill Mauldin.
Best albums: Man. Fifty albums on the list. I've heard two of them. And I couldn't stand either of them (it turns out that your first Radiohead album probably shouldn't be "Kid A". I couldn't make it out at all!). I've heard a couple of singles off two or three other albums on the list, but for the most part, I've never even heard of these bands. I do not appear to be all that hip.
Best comedy albums: I have eight of the 22. And at least I've got opinions on the other ones. I've heard almost all the comedians, even if I don't have the albums. I feel better about my hipness now.
Best TV Series: I'm trying once more to watch "The Wire". This is because people were finally backing off on the 24/7 hype for it. For some reason, reading yet another batch of lavish praise about the show doesn't make me enthused about tackling Season 4 again. And I've got the DVDs right here! Anyway, I've watched at least one full season of 18 of the 30 shows listed. Yes, including "The Wire". But not "Freaks and Geeks".
November 9th, 2009 (08:24 pm)
Today, I was on vacation. This manifested itself in the following ways.
1) I finished watching the first season of The Wire. That's the third time, I think. I'm hoping to gain enough momentum to make it through the whole series, since I've never seen season five and I can't remember anything that happens in seasons 2-4.
2) I went for a walk and got a haircut. It looks like this:
I got my haircut at a place I found called "Wedgwood Barber Shop". I found it via the old-timey barber pole out in front and was delighted to see that it was decorated with Saturday Evening Post covers. And it didn't take credit cards. There's also a chance it was located in 1975 or so.
3) I watched Almost Famous for the first time. I've decided that if I accomplish nothing else this week (spoiler: I will almost certainly accomplish nothing else) I want to see five movies that everyone else has seen but I haven't. I wrote about it here.
November 7th, 2009 (09:38 pm)
Today, I went out and bought some clothes.
Then we came back home and watched some terrible movies. Escape 2000 (Turkey Shoot), Slithis (Spawn of Slithis), Slaughterhouse Rock, and The Terrornauts. My comments on them are over here. Sometimes you watch an unknown movie and it's an amazing unknown classic. This was not one of those times.
November 6th, 2009 (03:33 pm)
I worked from home today, which I have learned to do with a frightening amount of efficiency. I think it's neat that I can sit on my couch and use my Mac laptop to operate my PC desktop at work. The official reason that I worked from home is so that I could demonstrate my proficiency in case the floods come to inundate the entire city Wizards of the Coast lives in, but it was also because I wanted to not bother coming all the way in today.
Now I'm going to take a week's vacation. This, again, has an official reason ("Gotta use the time or I'll lose it") and an unofficial reason ("I would like to sleep in for a week, please"). I have no idea what I'm going to do, but I suspect "watching DVDs", "playing videogames", and "falling farther behind on NaNoWriMo" will all play major roles.
October 30th, 2009 (11:17 pm)
I have just been to the Grand Illusion Spook Show. At one point, an ape carried off a screaming audience member! And there was a swami who performed a seance that accidentally flung us into the thirteenth dimension. Gosh!
Here are some of the things I saw, although most of the Impressionistic Poe Adaptations and Silent French Special Effects Extravangazas are too cool to show up on YouTube. And I'm not showing you the Peruvian Madness Movie, because it would drive you MAD.
I also saw this, which is in 3-D. If you have green-red glasses, it will look right. If you have blue-red, it will look the way I saw it. It combines two things I like a lot, namely "terrible humor" and "cheesy 3-D movie with things thrust at the camera"!
October 30th, 2009 (10:57 am)
We have decorated for Halloween:
Tombstones, pumpkins, and skeletal flamingoes. Glamorous!
Tonight, Rhias and I are going to the Spook Show at the Grand Illusion. Fun!
October 23rd, 2009 (01:48 pm)
On my way home, I stopped at the local grocery store. The parking lot was almost completely full, because the local elementary school had let out for the week, and there was only one spot for me to park in.
It was not an easy spot. There was a car waiting for another spot that prevented me from taking a nice wide curve into it and the parked car on the right was overlapping the line, so it took me several back-and-forths until I was successfully parked in the middle of the spot.
I got out and started to rush into the store to buy the three or four things I wanted. But there was a woman looking at me skeptically.
"Do you think I'll be able to get into my car?" she asked.
Ah. She was the driver of the car that was parked next to mine. My car was in the center of its spot, but hers was overlapping the line. I eyeballed it, and there was about ten or eleven inches between the cars. Not enough for the door to be opened all the way, but I felt she could, in fact, get into her car. So I said "Yes."
"Well, go ahead and open the door," she said. What? Why should I have to open her door? I have doors of my own to open; I can't go around opening everyone else's doors! She explained that she wanted me to prove the door could open without scratching my car. I boggled at her, then shrugged, then opened her door, demonstrating that there was a place between "shut" and "denting my car" where the door could easily live.
Then she blamed me for the lack of space. I told her (with illustrative gestures) that, in fact, it was her car that was parked too far over, and her parking job that had caused the problem. Her answer?
"So it's all right if I scratch your car?"
No! No it isn't all right to scratch my car just because you didn't bother to park in the middle of your parking spot! I know it's hard sometimes, but that's why you have to sometimes back out and try again! You know how I know that? Because I just did it. Don't complain to me, crazy parking lot lady, for the problems you have caused yourself. Just squeeze into your car, pull out, and leave me alone!
October 12th, 2009 (04:05 pm)
I woke up around noon through a combination of jet lag, laziness, and a conviction that I shouldn't have to set my alarm when I'm on vacation. I walked a it as bmile or so to the Texas Chili Parlor, where I had tasty, tasty chili. Then I walked another mile to the nearest Amy's Ice Creams, which blew my mind. I remembered it as being delicious, but this was really delicious. And it was across the street from BookPeople, which was a very impressive bookstore.
Then I came back to the hotel and collapsed. I don't know why my vacations revolve around A) Food, and B) Walking far more than I ever do at home.
I'll probably go for a swim later, then out to dinner at Ironworks. Tomorrow, the only thing I have planned is seeing Torso at the Drafthouse. Torso! Check out this nonsense:
October 11th, 2009 (06:51 pm)
I started the day by going by the World of Warcraft TCG World Championships, which was weird. It looked a lot like a Magic event, except that everyone was playing a different game. I recognized a bunch of the staff, but mostly from at least five years ago. Plus, I've never actually played the game, which made the event kind of academic.
So I walked to the Alamo South Lamar, which is two miles away. Along the way, I got pretty wet. What's up with Texas raining on me? This place is supposed to be an arid wasteland, isn't it? Or at least give me giant raindrops and thunderstorms! This was just a Seattle-style drizzling.
I got to the Drafthouse and cheerfully watched Zombieland. It appears to be based on the concept that there are two basic ways to survive a zombie apocalypse: you can either be a nerd who knows all the rules, or you can be a zombie-killin' madman. So they paired up the two character archetypes to see what would happen!
After the Drafthouse, I walked back to downtown, but I am not strong enough to walk past this sign:
First of all, I love miniature golf. Second, "We Tow" has to be the best advertising slogan ever. So what kind of miniature gold course was it? This kind:
Also this kind:
And this kind:
And you know how some miniature gold courses come with a video arcade? Check it:
I didn't take a picture of the depressed teen behind the counter, but you can probably imagine what he looked like. One more thing might possibly convey the awesome rundown vibe of this place.
The sign says "Please don't smash coils. Thank you." Awwww.
Anyway, I enjoyed the golf. I got ten over par, but it's hard to do well against par when so many holes have a 2. There was only one hole where it took me more than three strokes, which is pretty good for a course I've never seen. In the rain. Don't judge me. You think you could do better? You and me: miniature golf. Anytime, anywhere!
I eventually got back to the hotel, at which point I collapsed on the bed. Eventually I got enough energy to go find the pool, which was both warm and unoccupied. Hooray! See, if you go to a hotel with a big, fancy pool, it's always full. tura and I learned that last year when we went to Disneyland and stayed at the Grand Californian. Three pools that were both famous and giant, and also all constantly full. This place has a pool you have to search out (it's on the second floor, indoors, next to the exercise room) so it was much more pleasant. There was one hotel employee cleaning the exercise room, but I think she was just in there as an excuse to watch the soccer on the big screen television. All the other televisions in the hotel had American football, see, and I don't want to indulge in stereotypes, but it's just possible that some of the hospitality staff are from countries more interested in other pursuits.
AAaaaaand then I came back up here and wrote this. Now I'm thinking about eating some dinner.
October 11th, 2009 (01:02 am)
We begin, as with of my stories that involve a plane flight, pretty early in the morning. I like to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. I once got to JFK six hours before my flight, but I should point out that they just moved me to an earlier flight so I didn't actually do that much waiting around.
Actually, the story could start yesterday, because I finally took advantage of this new thing where you can check in for your flight 24 hours early and print out your boarding pass at home. Although that's obviously nonsensical because how can you check in when you're not at the airport yet?
Okay, anyway, I got on my flight. You'd think that going to a work event five days early would mean there wouldn't be anyone from work on my flight, but sure enough, as soon as I started boarding, I ran into someone who was going to Texas early to meet up with family. Go figure.
Alaska Airlines has basically no amenities but they have a lot of things for sale. One thing they'll let you rent is the "digEplayer", which comes preloaded with a wide range of video entertainment, from Top Gear to that Wolverine movie. It also had Sita Sings the Blues, which is pretty cool of them. I didn't partake, though, because I was reading the new Terry Pratchett book Unseen Academicals. It's awesome.
When I got to Austin, I took a cab ride to the hotel. The driver's first words were "I haven't been doing this very long, but I think I know where your hotel is. Hey, are you tired?" I said I was. "I ask because I've learned that sometimes people are tired and don't want to talk." Then he talked nonstop for the rest of the ride. I learned about his previous career, his current career, two or three other careers he was planning to start, some other riders he'd had, and the various promotional ideas he had to become the most popular cab driver in the world. On the way, I learned that Austin has a great many party stores, each of which has a bouncy castle out front.
And then the hotel said I wasn't supposed to be checking until the 14th. I assured them that I was actually checking in today, and it all worked out with the careful use of credit cards.
After getting settled (and calling tura, I set out for action! All the bars on 6th were enthusiastically football-related, because UT was playing Colorado in about an hour. I ended up just eating at the sports bar at the hotel, and I quite liked the chili. I shouldn't have eaten the beef brisket sandwich first, because although it was pretty tasty, it didn't leave much chili room.
After that, I walked a couple of blocks to the Austin Convention Center, where the Texas Lonestar Rollergirls (the banked track one) was having its season championship. Sweet! I was mostly interested in the picky details of the rules differences between banked track and flat track, so here you go: they have four eight-minute periods. Each jam is limited to one minute, which means you basically get only one scoring pass no matter how fast you are. They don't run the clock between jams, and they don't start the clock until the jammers go.
When there's a minor penalty, they stop the action to employ the Penalty Wheel, where the skater who committed the infraction has to do some sort of challenge against someone from the other team (two-lap duel, tug-of-war, etc.) and loses a point if she loses. I hated this, because it stopped the momentum of the derby, and I left after the first period. This means that I missed one of the coaches skating against Andrew Wilson, who basically played that coach in Whip It, and also the Hellcats coming from behind for an upset win against the undefeated Cherry Bombs.
The roller derby was in Hall 5 of the Austin Convention Center, which I'm pretty sure is where the Flat Track Nationals were a couple of years ago when I was last here. It's also where Pro Tour Austin (the Magic tournament that's my reason for being here) is going to be next weekend. So I'm pretty comfortable with that venue at this point. Also, apparently the World of Warcraft TCG Worlds are happening over in Hall 1, so I might check that out tomorrow.
That's pretty much it so far. The only real problems so far are that I forgot my camera and that I brought some DVDs to watch and forgot to pack anything that plays DVDs. Nice going, me!
Now I sleep!
September 29th, 2009 (02:09 pm)
September 26th, 2009 (11:25 pm)
This morning, I made a list of things I might want to do today. It went like this:
1) See Fame
2) Library Sale
3) Stay on couch all day
4) Take dishes out of dishwasher
5) Exchange propane tank and make hamburgers
We decided to do everything but number three. Fame was kind of fun, in that it reminded me of the original sometimes. Here's my review of that. The library sale was fun, and I got in and out without filling up an entire bag. I did score a great book from 1927 called Secrets of Baseball in which each chapter is written by a baseball player of the time. Now I have tips on playing first base written by Lou Gehrig! Or, more likely, by someone who Lou Gehrig allowed to use his name!
September 20th, 2009 (08:10 pm)
September 17th, 2009 (10:37 am)
Looks like there may have been some fog in Seattle today.
September 11th, 2009 (11:22 am)
When you play a song on solo drums, the crowd screams "Ringo!" I like that.
September 4th, 2009 (05:42 pm)
I went to PAX today, and I'm really impressed with how quickly it's grown. It took San Diego Comic Con decades to get to the point where scantily-clad women stood across the street from the con, passing out invitations to "parties". I put the sarcasm quote around "parties" because I'm not sure exactly what goes on there. My guess is that it's either a timeshare presentation or an exciting new saucer cult.
So PAX is now an enormous convention, and I like it more than San Diego at this point. That's because back when I was going to Comic Con every year, I mostly spent all my time in the gaming room. My crew was about ten people strong at times, so we'd just take over one of the tables and somebody was always there to watch the stuff. It's hard to find gaming at Comic Con these days, but PAX has practically an entire floor devoted to D&D. I'm not as into video games, but I admit to a fondness for the medium. And I got to play some Rock Band: Beatles, although the bass line for Taxman is pretty complicated when you're in a room so noisy you can't hear anything.
Anyway, this is what PAX is like:
That's the toilet paper. Some might say that that's going a bit too far.
August 21st, 2009 (05:48 pm)
My circadian rhythms are all out of whack now. To my internal clock, it's not 6:00 pm. Nor is it morning. Instead, it's some kind of hoary nethertime.
So here's what happened yesterday. First, we went to Rifftrax Live at 8:00 PM. Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy were broadcasting from a theater in Nashville, mocking Plan 9 From Outer Space. It's fun watching that movie on a big screen anyway (I'm not sure I ever connected the dots that Vampira was Bela Lugosi's dead wife -- that must have been a fun couple!) and the riffing was very enjoyable. Incidentally, it sounded like the crowd in Nashville really enjoyed the Hee Haw and Andy Griffith jokes.
So that ended around 10:00, after which we bummed around Pacific Place for a little bit before getting let in to the empty movie theater where Inglourious Basterds would be shown at midnight. So there was a bit more waiting around until Rhias's Scarecrow coworkers showed up, and we went down to sit with them.
Inglourious Basterds was a lot of fun, and I do not for a minute regret staying there until 3:00 AM watching it. Of course, it's been a long time since I spent seven hours in a movie theater. And when I got home, there was a sadly short period of time before Rhias and I had to get out of bed and get to work. At 9:00 AM.
Luckily, I had a half-day today and Rhias got off early as well. So at 2:30 PM or so, we both collapsed into bed. Ah, blessed sleep!
...for a few hours, anyway. Because what I had was more of a nap than an actual extended sleep. It seems that I also need to eat food occasionally. So I'm awake again, eating, I think, yesterday's dinner. Or tomorrow's breakfast. Either way.
August 15th, 2009 (06:24 pm)
I am reluctantly willing to accept that my mental picture of myself is about fifteen years out of date. It is just remotely possible that I'm no longer rail-thin. Several years of uninterrupted gainful employment in combination with a nice couch and large television will do that.
So I realize that I need to exercise, at least a little. I've tried purchasing Miracle Workout Equipment from the Internet, but apparently you need to pick it up occasionally and, I don't know, exercise with it or something. Man, what a rip-off. They said this was a miracle breakthrough! Now I want to get some Indian clubs to swing around, but I don't know where to get them around here. Everyone says "DO NOT USE JUGGLING CLUBS", but they don't say what horrible things will happen as a result.
Aaaaanyway, I went for a walk his morning. I went down to Dahl Playfield (AKA "That giant field a few blocks away") and jogged around it. Then I came home, which let me verify that our house is, in fact, on top of the highest hill around.
So now I guess I have to do it again. A lot. And maybe throw the ol' medicine ball around. That's a thing, right?
July 31st, 2009 (02:47 pm)
Tonight would be a good night to go to a Drive-In Movie.
July 29th, 2009 (12:47 pm)
Well, let's see here.
Rhias got hit by an SUV while she was riding her scooter last week. The SUV ran a red light and broadsided her. Astonishingly, she is not only not dead, she's able to walk around. It looks like the driver doesn't have insurance, so we are sad. And angry. We're seeing what can be done. Meanwhile, she's got the week off from work while she undergoes chiropractery and gets X-rayed to see if there are any broken bones. Soon we shall see about repairing her scooter.
My extended family had its annual family reunion last week, and this happened. My mother was missed by about two inches and I still have an aunt and two cousins in the hospital.
It's extremely hot. Right now, it's 99 degrees outside. I rode my scooter to work (yes, even with all the traffic-related activity going on right now) because it was nice and warm. Now it's too hot to scooter, because it turns out that even at 50 mph, 100-degree air is uncomfortable on my face. It's like taking a hot-air corn popper and shoving your face into it as far as it will go. But it's kind of neat to ride through actually hot air instead of air that is merely warm. Oh! And there's an "air stagnation advisory" for the area. That's a new one.
I took yesterday off from both Wizards of the Coast and recapping for Television Without Pity. That meant I got to watch Hell's Kitchen and NYC Prep straight through without having to pause every minute or so. Verdict: NYC Prep is a bad, bad show.
I have decided I don't like Facebook. The updates are too short to be interesting a lot of the time, and I have no interest in Applications or Quiz Results. At least Twitter doesn't have an automatic feature to fill my feed with irrelevant junk like Facebook does. I still use Facebook, though, because some people are using it and not Livejournal or Twitter. I had my Twitter and Facebook feeds linked at one point, but now I rephrase everything so there are two different versions of everything I post on either one.
I've been playing a lot of Battle Tetris the last couple of days. I like this suite of Tetris games, although I find it a little annoying that the opponents are so clearly computer-generated. (Proof: play Sprint 5P. When you win, hit "Finish" right away. Hey, it knows how long your opponents took, even if it hasn't been long enough!) I'm pretty good, because I played a lot of Tetris back when it was a cutting-edge game. But there are new tools that lower the difficulty, so I feel like if I can get the hang of Holding tiles, I'll be unstoppable.
July 19th, 2009 (02:13 pm)
Occasionally some actress with little regard for the public's morals, or even her own, has a suggestive song written to order. In the past when this took place there was always a publisher ready to bring the song out, depending upon the performer's reputation to bring him a few rot-rimmed dollars. Today, however, the average person has little time for performers of this character. The public has tired of having filth served up in the form of amusement. Theatre managers have come to realize the resentment on the part of their patrons, and scores of managers have had notices posted in the dressing rooms stating that any one attempting to use a vulgar or suggestive song will have his time immediately cancelled.Writing the Popular Song,
by E.M. Wickes, 1916
I love Google Books. You can read this whole book right here
July 5th, 2009 (10:23 am)
I've just shut down montykins.com for good. I told Dreamhost to stop billing me and I'm not even bothering to rescue the URL. The blog I kept from 2001 to 2005 is going away forever. Well, I exported it and its comments so I have a copy, but that's it.
However, I'm more affected by the news that CompuServe is finally going away. I've been on the Internet since 1993, but I was on CompuServe in 1984. IT was my first experience with a national network, and the first time I was able to read something other than a local BBS. I was a regular in the RPGAMES forum (I was Member of the Month once!), which was where I had my first contact with RPG professionals. I got to playtest GURPS Cyberpunk (not the edition the Secret Service seized; this was an earlier draft from a different writer) and a few others I don't remember. CompuServe hasn't been relevant in many, many years, but it was part of my youth and I'll miss it.
July 2nd, 2009 (07:50 pm)
The State is coming to DVD!
But that's not the exciting news. The exciting news is apparently in the "coming soon" part of the DVD. It's ( behind the cutCollapse )
June 27th, 2009 (10:41 pm)
I've always sort of intended to see Phantom of the Paradise. It's a Famous Cult Movie (defined here as "a movie mentioned in one of Danny Peary's Cult Movies books") and it's got Jessica Harper, who I quite liked in Shock Treatment. But I'd never gotten around to seeing it. Until now!
And I liked it, although I think I was supposed to hate Paul Williams more than I did. His character has some interesting artistic ideas and I think he puts on one heck of a show. The crazy songwriter should have just relaxed. Of course, I also think Williams should have just hired the songwriter to write songs and not bothered with stealing the music and the blood contracts and all. Things would have run much smoother for him if he'd just run things on a sensible business footing.
I did object to Jessica Harper making out with Paul Williams. I've got nothing against Mr. Williams. I like his work with the Muppets. But on the other hand, he's kind of a weird-looking troll.
I made fun of Brian De Palma during the movie a bit (oh look! A shot from Psycho! Shocking!) but I liked the Touch of Evil reference.
This movie was Good Fun. Now I have to decide if I want to get around to seeing all the other cult movies I've never seen. I used to want to see all the movies in Peary's books in alphabetical order, but Aguirre, Wrath of God is kind of intimidating. Plus, I'm not sure I have the books anymore.
June 27th, 2009 (04:04 pm)
Although Rhias and I are both very fond of sleeping in, we rousted ourselves out of bed before 9:00 to participate in some of this weekend's Scooter Insanity events. And they were fun!
First, we went to Cafe Racer for breakfast. That's when we found out that the scheduled ride was happening at 11:00 so we could have had some more precious sleep. Oh well, at least we got tasty sandwiches and to hang out with other scooter riders.
The ride went to Mukilteo, which took a reasonably long time. I think we were riding for three hours or so, not counting the two gas station stops and the times we had to stop because someone had fallen behind. The first one was because of this pink Piaggio 125 that coughed a lot and was struggling to reach 35 mph. The second one was when one guy's helmet flew off his head. It bounced next to my scooter and in front of Rhias's. Exciting!
Eventually we got to the Mukilteo Ferry Landing and everyone started riding up on the grass to park. Then we found out we had to go park in regular parking spots, so we all did that, only to learn that they were pay spots. As people were grouping up to collect money for their spots (there were something like eight scooters per spot), we discovered we were in the wrong place entirely. There was a "reserve your food online" option, but that apparently connected to a different branch of the restaurant we were next to.
AS everyone started getting ready to go to the correct restaurant, Rhias and I separated from the pack. My plan was to ride the Ferry back to Seattle and maybe have some delicious shrimp at the Crab Pot. Unfortunately for me, once I paid for the ferry tickets, I learned that the ferry system is not like the one for busses. You can't just transfer from ferry to ferry until you get to the right stop. The Mukilteo ferry just goes back and forth from this one place. Phooey! So we rode home on 99, which was both fast and fun.
Now we're sitting exhausted on the couch because we rode scooters for four and a half hours or so. It's tiring!
June 24th, 2009 (08:48 pm)
I went to the Padres-Mariners game tonight, but I left in the second inning. I just wasn't interested in what was happening on the field and I was getting irritated with how long it was taking both pitchers to get around to throw a pitch. I mean, it doesn't help that both pitchers were pretty bad, but it's time for me to face the fact that I don't really like baseball anymore.
It's been a few years since I went to a game and I haven't even watched a whole regular season game on television in the last couple of seasons either. So it's not that big a leap to "no longer a baseball fan". Really, all I'll lose is the Baseball Primer message board, which is one of my standard Internet timesinks. I mean, I spend almost all my time in threads that have gone off-topic, but it's still basically a baseball board.
June 23rd, 2009 (08:04 pm)
Okay, look. I enjoyed Rent a lot. So don't take this the wrong way, but I couldn't help but notice certain overlaps with the movie Reality Bites. Which I also enjoy a lot, but freely acknowledge that it's not actually a very good movie. It's very much an artifact of 1994, but then Rent is an artifact of 1995-6 and nobody holds that against it.
So in Reality Bites, Winona Ryder plays a character who carries a video camera everywhere she goes, recording her jackass friends as they have fights and squabbles. Eventually she finishes her documentary, which is basically an incomprehensible mess of unconnected shots. She gets offered a fancy network job, but refuses to allow her precious creation to get turned into something commercial and watchable.
In Rent, Anthony Rapp plays a character who carries a camera everywhere he goes, recording the fights and squabbles. He miraculously lands a fancy network job but quits because only squares and sellouts have jobs. When he finishes his documentary, it's basically an incomprehensible mess of unconnected shots.
What I'm saying is that both Rent and Reality Bites use "carries a video camera" as shorthand for "artsiness" but doesn't really sell me on the character in question knowing how to use it or having a chance of making something interesting with it.
June 21st, 2009 (05:24 pm)
Yesterday, Rhias and I saw "Rent" at the Paramount. I'd only seen the movie, and I liked the play a lot more. In the movie, the first thing you see is these two guys in a giant apartment vowing not to pay rent, which did not endear me to them. That place is enormous! You should have to get a job if you're going to live there!
Luckily, the play tells us that they were promised by their old roommate, who has bought the building, that they'd get to live there rent-free. And that happens before the song about not paying rent, so it makes more sense. And the staging conveys a more squalid living situation than the movie shows, so already I'm more on their side.
The touring company, like the movie and the original play, is anchored by Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal. It's cool to see the guys that originated the roles, even though I still think of Anthony Rapp as "the guy from Dazed and Confused". That's also how I think of Adam Goldberg and Matthew McConaughey. Anyway, they're quite good at their roles, as you might expect.
Then today, Rhias and I went to see Every Little Step, a movie about the creation of "A Chorus Line", both the original production and the 2006 revival. I love cover songs because it's interesting to me to see different interpretations of a single work, and that means I love seeing ten people all doing different takes on a song as they audition. I also liked seeing Yuka Tanaka, who I'd seen the previous day in "Rent". She had the nerve-wracking task of auditioning for the part of "Connie" in front of Baayork Lee, who originated the role. Which means that Yuka had to perform a monologue that was based on Baayork's actual life. Complicated!
Speaking of things that are complicated, this is basically a movie about people auditioning to be in a stage show about people auditioning. As far as I'm concerned, Every Little Step is a much better movie version of "A Chorus Line" than the actual A Chorus Line movie was.
Incidentally, to continue our theatrical bent, we'll be seeing the Brown Derby Production's version of ET The Extra-Terrestrial on Thursday at the ReBar. It'll be gross and sophomoric! Don't miss it!
June 19th, 2009 (10:57 am)
New post on a 1953 book about science fiction on my Dreamwidth account. Did L. Sprague De Camp really just say that all science fiction editors were gay? Why would he say that?
June 18th, 2009 (08:11 pm)
Google Books has a wide variety of out-of-copyright works, and you can go there to read scans of them. That's pretty neat.
Also neat, albeit mystifying, is the ability to embed books. For example, they've got P.G. Wodehouse's A Damsel in Distress. It was made into a movie starring Fred Astaire, George Burns, and Gracie Allen!
...and you'd be reading it right now, if their embedding code actually worked.
Never mind, i guess. It's over here if you still want to read it.
June 13th, 2009 (06:48 pm)
I went to the All City Scooter Thing today. It was fun. There were cool scooters there, which made me want to do more stuff to mine. My only idea so far is "more stickers!" but I'm sure I'll come up with something.
scalpel was there, and he convinced me to go on the Vespa Club of Seattle's ride after the regular event was over. It was fun, although I felt bad that scalpel fell behind and the ride carried on without him. He actually got to Cafe Racer before the main group did, because he ended up going directly there instead of taking a delightful tour through tree-lined windy avenues and past various lakes. We also saw some guys in Viking helmets jogging. I don't know what that was all about.
Anyway, I spent a few hours outside and riding my scooter. Hooray! Now my arms are sunburned.
June 12th, 2009 (04:31 pm)
I have next week off from work! I don't have any actual plans, but I've got the time off, so it's not like I'm not going to take it. So: next week, no work. Lots of lying around, followed by complaining that I'm bored, probably. So anyone who wants to do something, I'll probably be desperate for the distraction starting around Tuesday.
I do plan to ride my scooter around quite a bit. Tomorrow is something called "All City Scooter Community Day" (there's a website!), so I guess I'll go to that. Monday is "Scoot to work day", but since I'm not going to work at all on that day, I guess I'm skipping it.
June 9th, 2009 (02:22 pm)
I'm very proud of myself, because I now have a permanent crown on a tooth. This should have been done months ago. I delayed the appointment several times for increasingly frivolous reasons (like "We have guests from out of town and I want to be able to eat toffee with them, so we'd better not put the temporary on for at least a month"), and in the end delayed it so much that today I got both the permanent crown and my scheduled cleaning.
But I finally bit the bullet and did it. I probably wouldn't have delayed so much if my tooth had hurt, but this was just me taking the dentist's word for it that I needed a crown. I mean, I could tell there was a medium-sized hole there, but I figured if it's not causing me any inconvenience, why bother? That's not thinking that leads to long-term dental health, incidentally.
Oh, and my cleaning went well, so I have no extra cavities or anything to deal with. Hooray! Time for ice cream!