Friday, March 1, 2013


Those of you who have yet to make the switch to a Windows 8 machine are missing out on one of the most weirdly addictive games I've come across in a long time. Available as a free download from the Windows Store, "Microsoft Minesweeper" is ostensibly just a prettier update of the classic time-waster. But one of the features the game brings to the table is a new "Adventure" mode, which casts you as an intrepid explorer, roaming through caves to find treasure while trying to avoid a variety of traps. This simple little shift in how the game is played has completely revitalized it, and in the process added a new twist to platform games as well. While it initially seems relatively easy, things eventually get very difficult. I have yet to make it past Level 20, but seeing as I can't seem to make it through a day without popping in to play at least once, it should only be a matter of time before I do.

And as a quick side note, as of late I also appear to have developed an addiction to Werther's Original candies, which I suppose officially marks me as having made the transition to being old.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Hopefully any moment now I will be receiving an email from my friend Nikola at Figytech informing me that the computer he is building for me is ready to pick up. Sure, I don't really NEED a new computer, as I am currently typing this post on one that works perfectly fine, but next week sees the release of the new "SimCity" and my experience with the 1 hour beta test a couple weeks ago demonstrated that this one is not really able to handle the game. Lucky for me this happens to coincide with tax return season, making the decision somewhat of a no-brainer.

Courtesy Electronic Arts
Of course, I probably COULD have put that money towards more productive purposes. I do have a pretty severely ingrown toenail on my right foot that I probably should do something about, but in what is fairly typical fashion for me I will wait until it actually starts to bother me before I go see a podiatrist. And even if I didn't spend the money on something else, that is most likely still the course of action I would have taken. I've had an ingrown toenail "permanently" removed before, and it was a very unpleasant experience that I am not exactly eager to repeat. That was a long time ago though and the memory of just how bad it was might be getting grossly exaggerated.

I also haven't gotten to buy anything fun for myself in quite a long time. And after having to suffer through a severe toothache brought about by an infection, which was immediately followed by a relatively minor but still annoying cold, I think I deserve a treat of some sort. And for the record, that toothache was perhaps the worst pain I've ever experienced, and puts the ingrown toenail removal into a different, less negative perspective.

As far as actually purchasing the game is concerned, I have accumulated enough Amazon gift cards from taking surveys online that I won't actually have to shell out any cash for that. And as next week's release creeps closer and closer I have to do everything I can to try and not get TOO excited about it, lest I allow my expectations to get unreasonably high. I am also trying to not watch too many clips of gameplay footage on YouTube, so as to leave at least a little bit of surprise for when I actually get to play it. I'm sure I'll have a lot to say about SimCity after it comes out. Just don't expect it to be right away as I will most likely be unable to tear myself away from my PC for several days....

Monday, February 25, 2013


Courtesy Disney ABC Television Group
I personally liked last night's Oscar telecast, although to be fair I generally do. The only time I ever agreed with all the day-after host-bashing was when Anne Hathaway and James Franco conspired to show critics exactly what a truly bad Academy Awards emceeing job looked like. I can understand that people feel inclined to judge each performance on its own merits rather than grading it as being less awful than a previous one, but seeing as they tend to point out when one is less great than another that would seem like an unfairly hypocritical criterion.

Even without drawing comparisons however, I still found Seth MacFarlane to be pretty funny. Sure, some of his bits were a little weird, and sometimes he seemed to be unsure of whether he should fully commit to it (in particular with how quickly he broke character after a Von Trapp / Nazis gag), but he frequently made me at least chuckle, even when he was being a bit more risqué than one would expect during the Oscars. 

I still can't say I'm all that surprised by the nearly unanimous outpouring of hate towards him from the TV critics however. Firstly because I can't recall the last time they genuinely seemed to like an Oscar telecast that wasn't hosted by Billy Crystal (who really isn't nearly as amusing as they claim he is). And secondly because Seth's brand of humor has always been pretty polarizing. While last night actually saw him toning things down a bit, it was still basically Seth being Seth with absolutely no surprises. He even managed to get absurdist humor cutaways alá "Family Guy" into his opening.

Perhaps more surprising is how much it would seem the normal TV viewing public DIDN'T hate him. As of this morning a poll of visitors to the "Today Show" website has nearly half of respondents saying they loved him and less than 20% saying they hated him [click here for article]. And seeing as the vast majority of the viewing audience is made of people who are not paid television critics, that seems like a significantly more important number to me.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I sometimes think I am at least a little bit inclined towards self-sabotage. Take this blog for instance; in its previous iteration I had managed to build up a pretty respectable following by posting music reviews and a weekly collection of shirtless photos of male celebrities. And now all of that has been deleted, and this site has been left more or less blank for several months. Sure, I can come up with several reasons as to why I decided to go ahead and do something so drastic:
  • I had started working 2 jobs and I just couldn't commit enough time to listen to and review several albums each week on top of that.
  • Being my own worst critic, I also didn't know that I really thought I was bringing anything all that valuable to the conversation. Especially with something so subjective as opinions regarding music.
  • With so many pieces of legislation like SOPA and PIPA making their way through Congress, it seemed that reposting photographs I had found using Google search was probably not the safest thing for me to be doing if I wanted to avoid litigation.
But even with all that, I knew I didn't want to give up the site altogether. And if I wanted to maintain any of the previous traffic it probably would have been a good idea to start writing something else as quickly as possible, but for whatever reasons I didn't bother. And I certainly found myself regretting that decision, but also not exactly racing out to do anything about it either.


I've finally been reading Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice" and enjoying it quite a lot. Her writing style is maybe not the best, with the book seeming very light on descriptions of people or places, and largely being comprised of dialogue. Which I suppose would go some way towards explaining why people are so inclined to make films of her work, since they are practically written as screenplays in the first place. As a result I find myself placing members of the cast of "Downton Abbey" into the various roles in my head, many of whom I think would make quite fine choices for the parts the next time someone shoots it.

Perhaps lessening my enjoyment of the book is that I had foolishly read "Pride & Prejudice & Zombies" first. In keeping with my previously mentioned theme of self-sabotage, this choice has basically ruined any surprises the book may have held as that pretty sloppy "parody" work follows the plot of the original much more accurately than I would have expected. Really the only difference is Seth Grahame-Smith's seemingly random insertions of zombie violence and a weird obsession with repeating the same juvenile bit of testicular punnery. Of course there is the possibility that I might have thought more highly of Mr. Grahame-Smith's work if I had read it 2nd, thereby leading to the conclusion that reading them out of order was in and of itself a bit of self-sabotaging.

Or maybe I'm over-thinking things a bit.


This afternoon I will be going to my friend Michelle's house for a weird combination of marathon-style TV viewing. Things will begin by watching the Daytona 500 and wrap up by watching the Oscars. Perhaps the only thing these 2 events share in common is that neither is known for its brevity. I should admit that I am not really a fan of NASCAR, although as a result of Michelle and her sister Kim's interest in the "sport" I have wound up not hating it either. And not just because of the prospect of crashes, although it's hard not to have at least some interest in seeing things get destroyed, which would explain the whole of Roland Emmerich's career. That doesn't mean however that I was hoping that any spectators would wind up being hurt in a real-life version of the opening sequence of "Final Destination 4":

While the video is pretty shocking despite having been pointed in the wrong direction during a significant portion of the action (at least he was using his phone in panorama mode), perhaps more upsetting were the unsurprisingly crass and cruel comments being posted underneath it. Despite clearly seeing people assisting someone who appears to have been struck by a tire and staying nearby to try and get the attention of the medics on the track, a stunningly large number of commenters instead chose to focus on pointing out that they are all a bunch of rednecks and therefore worthy of our derision.

And then more alarming to me was the realization that while watching the footage, I had thought the same thing. Being a gay male I found myself looking at those people and thinking that they were exactly why I wouldn't ever actually go to see one of these races in person. Not because I might get hit by debris from an accident, but because I wouldn't feel comfortable around the other spectators. And that actually goes to the point of "Pride & Prejudice", that often our first impressions of people can be sorely misguided. Here I am thinking I wouldn't want anything to do with the crowd in the video, and that they wouldn't likely want anything to do with me either, but in fact many of them are shown being much more caring towards their fellow man than many people I would probably have judged more acceptably would have likely been.

So I guess if there's any point to this rather rambling post, it's that I, and all of us, really need to make a better effort to adhere to that age-old adage that asks us to refrain from judging books by their cover.

p.s. Go "Beasts Of The Southern Wild"!

p.p.s. I'm still pretty pissed about the end of "Downton Abbey" season 3.