Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I dreamt last night I was in a roundtable with Will Wright. Willfuckingwright! And I asked him how Spore was coming along.
I think this is the gamer's version of the gay Spiderman dream (Oh take me away Peter!) I mean, what the crap does this have to do with playing Rainbow Six before bed?
Maybe I've been playing too many manly man mature M 18+ you must be this tall to ride games as of late. And yes Gears of War brought the bag of chips.
"The dreams in which I'm dyin are the best I've ever had..."
Curse you Gary Jules!
I spent all of Sunday being completely stressed and terrified about going up and doing stand-up. It didn't help that I decided to completely re-focus the main story I was going to tell about 3 hours before doing it. Now I've done a fair bit of public speaking before, and when I host trivia I have to keep a room entertained with fucking homework for 2 whole hours, but somehow this is still different. These people are paying you just to make them laugh, and there isn't even the requirement that they share the same sense of humour as you do.
When I got there Amanda, the bartender who was also performing that night, and I agreed that angry, aggressive music should definitely be played at this moment in order to get us pumped and energetic, so on goes the Nine Inch Nails for the next hour. Fucking right. Then, just before the show, "Sober" by Tool gets put on. This is a song that will get you totally jumping around and stoked until you start to listen to the words which are about wanting to do nothing ever again. This feeling of conflict is what I was going through in my own head, completely stoked but also just wondering why I'm doing it at all.
Everything evaporated, though, as soon as it was time to actually start. I was the first act up, but Richard, the host, warmed the crowd up a little with some good old miscegenation humour. Getting that first collective room laugh was now out of my hands, thank God.
I started off with a couple of pretty self-deprecating jokes to get some things off of my chest and to get some laughs. Then I went into a story about my sister's weird in-laws, which I totally re-worked just before coming on because even though I was being devastatingly funny on paper ripping apart imagined traits of theirs, it just didn't feel real or feel like it was me thinking or sayinng those things, so instead I took the tack that they confuse me to my core, which they do, and played off of that. I think it went pretty well, and it gave me the chance to inject jokes about American politics into the act without beating people over the head with them.
After that I went for some cheap laughs at my own expense, and yes dear audience member, I really am that insecure when it comes to dating and girls, and finish up with a nice reliable porn bit and all was well.
The other acts were way funnier, in my mind, totally consistent laughs from Sharlene, Patrick Ledwell is a total pro at this, he just went up, pounded out an act that you could see easily fitting on the Comedy Network, then there was some musical comedy which honestly needs some work from James, but there's potential there because he's got a good voice and he can be funny when he's actually talking about real things and not trying to make things up out of thin air or exagerate too much. In the middle of the second act was Amanda, you can tell she has had acting experience, she had very good presence, despite bringing notes up with her, and had a pretty big surprise physical comedy bit that really got the room going.
And of course Taylor, who closed out the night, just killed. He's getting more and more shocking as the performances go by. I think now he's more in it to amuse himself with the audience's reaction rather than going for straight laughs, which is hilarious to me, and I'm just curious to see where it ends up.
The next comedy night will be in January. The comedians all really liked my stuff, and asked me to go up again. I'm not sure yet, but the feeling of power you get when you're up there and things are going well is quite addictive, to the point that I was walking to work yesterday actually still feeling pretty pumped. So we'll see.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Whew, I don't know how this is possible but I'm completely wound up and bouncing and simultaneously utterly terrified.
Friday, November 24, 2006
You Are From the Sun
Of all your friends, you're the shining star.
You're dramatic - loving attention and the spotlight.
You're a totally entertainer and the life of the party.
Watch out! The Sun can be stubborn, demanding, and flirty.
Overall, you're a great leader and great friend. The very best!
You Are From Mercury
You are talkative, clever, and knowledgeable - and it shows.
You probably never leave home without your cell phone!
You're witty, expressive, and aware of everything going on around you.
You love learning, playing, and taking in all of what life has to offer.
Be careful not to talk your friends' ears off, and temper your need to know everything.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I have tabled a motion to finally declare my parent's residence as The Grand Duchy of Kong Hong (a sovereign nation within the confines of a united Canada that may or may not secede sometime in the near future). Naturally, my wife will be referred to as Grand Duchess henceforth. You may continue to address me as Holier Than Thou or Tuna for short.
Our national economy is based on gold farmed for World of Warcraft and our national flag is based on Canada's with the maple leaf replaced by a joystick. Our national anthem is Mad World.
So get the word out. My Canada includes Kong Hong.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Er. Have it your way? I'm highly succeptible to advertising. Especially when it comes to new foodstuffs. Oooooh. Steak Burger. Oooooh. McRib. The list goes on.
This time they went right for my e-Wang. These BK games are pretty fun for 5 bucks. Although I do think they spent most of the development budget modelling Brooke Burke's ass.
I could tell the girl behind the counter knew of my feigned interest in the Value Combo. I think at one point I may have reached over the counter and demanded the games at nerfpoint. I don't know. Memory's fuzzy.
Sneak King is tiding me over until Thursday's Rainbow Six Vegas. A game developed in Montreal that's been delayed in Canada, yet is currently available across the border. Where's the love?
Also. I'm a very bad influence (Duc should know). As I got my buddy to buy a 360 and he got his buddy and his buddy's buddy to buy one. That's a lotta buddies.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I dropped off a bunch of toys into the Toys For Tots bin at the mall the other day. It's been my secret pleasure starting last year. Before that, I just hocked what I didn't want / grew tired of on eGarageDealie.
I got hooked on marketing at an early age. And we basically had nothing for several years cause well.. we had nothing. So I can vividly remember wanting that Optimus Prime but not being able to get one.
I've since made up for that in spades and handing out some Consumermas cheer makes me giddy. Yeah. They're just hunks of plastic and diecast, but oh the places they'll take you.
I'm a Toys 'R Us kid.
Are the people claiming to be offended by the Borat movie actually serious? Like, if you really thought that the movie was meant to be funny because of the racist and sexist things Borat says on film, and you went anyway, what does that say about you?
I'm apparently going to need to condense the point of this movie into 3 words for some of you to get it:
Kazakhstan is America.
All of the prejudices Borat espouses are ones held by some segment of the American population- homophobia, anti-semitism, male chauvinism. He's not creating some fictional faux-Kazakhstan out of thin air and random absurdities, he's carefully looking under the mask of acceptable discourse and seeing what people are still really thinking in a lot of cases and exposing these prejdices to the air.
Also it's funny that Sean Hannity was happy that such a seemingly ignorant pig like Borat said that he prefers Republicans. He'd be right at home with them.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Since everyone else is posting stuff, I sprained my ankle about a week and half ago playing hockey. What was supposed to be a fun-filled weekend playing hockey and D&D turned into weekend laying on the couch.
I was a bit worried that it might have been worst than a sprain, but after some of the swelling went away and I could see my foot return to something that more closely resembled a foot, it's pretty safe to say there's nothing torn. I still can't stand up for any length of time without wearing an ankle brace; taking a shower is still a painful experience. On one hand, I just so happen to own and have an ankle brace with me at the time the incident happened, which is good. On the other, the fact I already own one. . . .
Marriage rocks. That is all.
Continuing on. I didn't stand in line for either of the big launches this weekend. I don't see the point of buying hardware without decent games and I make it a rule never to buy "we gotta churn these suckers out in time for xmas" 1st production runs.
I'd be inviting Al over to play with my Wii, but Nintendo's not subsidizing their offering. So I'm silently protesting them being profitable from Day One. Grrr. Zelda be damned. For years, you've weened me on the subsidy. Weened I tells you!
I'll get one eventually. Metroid beckons. The PS3, on the other hand, I want it to die a quick death. Bring this 'war' back down to 2 parties, whilst keeping the spirit of competition.
I've got no brand loyalty as I end up buying all the systems anyway. It's just Sony's made so many bad moves this go round, that I'm not compelled to buy into their shiny.
-lack of rumble in controller
-content downgrades to 480p for TVs that don't support 720p (namely moi)
-no HDMI cable in the box
-controller doesn't have replaceable batteries
-no single profile online component
But most importantly a good chunk of their launch titles are available on 360. The AAA stuff is a year away. The market's in bad shape if a good percentage of your audience is the non-gamer make a quick buck on eBay type. Scalpers and the impatient make a wondeful combination. Ah. Capitalism.
Quick shout out to Duc. DOA Xtreme 2 is out. I also saw a Ninja Gaiden Ayane figure at Gamezilla. Also. There's this little game called Gears of War that's all the rage with the kids I hear.
Army of Two from EA Montreal looks amazing as well. As much as I despise Electronic Arts. Go canuck devs.
To anyone who has bought a Wii this weekend and doesn't have enough friends, I'll be happy to pretend to like you in exchange for some quality time with your new toy.
That is all.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
I hosted trivia at the Churchill Arms again this past Tuesday. I always have a blast doing it and I seem to be able to keep the crowd pretty interested, I made a ridiculous amount of money in quarters for beer questions this time, by being really fast-paced and instead of waiting for hands, just letting people shout out answers and pointing out each guess. It was pretty hectic but everyone was into it.
The questions I asked are, of course, at the Trivia Blog. I should get back to updating that thing more regularly when I go and play trivia at Churchill or elsewhere. It's sort of fun to keep track.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
For the record this isn't an invitation to come watch. This will be my first time and even though I've got some material I think is pretty funny, I'm sure I will be terrible. So if you want to come to see the other comics, that's great, but don't come just to see me.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Why Lost Doesn't WorkI had this sneaking suspicion about this show for a long time and it's why I haven't gotten into it.
Why Lost doesn't work
In New York magazine, Adam Sternbergh's piece about the decline of Lost captures my sentiments exactly. The show is getting worse and worse because the creators are forbidden from ever solving the central mystery in order to keep it running for as many seasons as possible. So when some smaller mystery does get explained, it never helps explain what's really going on.
There is, however, a simple solution: Change the format, or at least reimagine it. When it so-called arc shows, we need something between a mini-series and an open-ended run. We need the TV equivalent of a novella: the limited-run show. Series driven by a central mystery (Twin Peaks, The X-Files) peter out precisely because they have indefinite life spans. The writers are forced to serve up red herrings until the shows choke on their own plot twists. (Whereas 24 works because it’s more cliff-hanger than puzzle—though Jack Bauer is surely the unluckiest man alive.)
Is it still worth watching for individual episodes even if they overextend and mess up the central story?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
I know the negativity is to be expected, but it's really starting to get to the knee-jerk level. You’ll recall the casino that’s not a casino. Well now we’re to have a “call centre that’s not a call centre.” As Phil Taylor, director with AMVESCAP, took great pains to drive home this week at his company’s announcement thereof. From the CBC: And from The Guardian:
This is specious, by this logic it would be impossible for any kind of business-to-business operation to exist, because as soon as they mentioned what it wasn't, that's what it would become. Apparently perceptions are entrenched even among people who really should know better.
While the AMVESCAP office will consist of people taking phone calls and answering questions, Taylor said the operation would be a lot more sophisticated than what Atlantic Canadians have come to think of when they think of call centres… “This is really a client relations operation. So we would be dealing with sophisticated financial advisers, or our end clients, or the back office admin groups of our corporate clients, like, let’s say, RBC Dominion here in Canada.”
The Global Enterprise Centre will not be a call centre, said Taylor. It will provide client relations with financial advisers, as well as act as a backup to its Toronto headquarters in the event of a weather or terrorism-related crisis.
And therein lies the rub: whether it’s called a “Global Enterprise Centre” or an office for telephone-based “client relations with financial advisers” or a call centre doesn’t really matter: it will still suffer from the same “fair weather friend” nature of all such enterprises.Yeah, umm, that's the corporate world for you where ever you go. The difference between Alberta and Cape Breton is about 50 years of stuff still left in the ground. Yes, we live in a capitalist society, and yeah it can sort of sucks, but it sucks equally everywhere, if you've been paying attention to the opening and closing of auto plants every few years, and making cars has given Oshawa, Ontario the highest standard of living in the country. So I'm wondering just how high the bar would be set for an acceptably "secure" job. We can't all work for the provincial government, after all. And, oh, wait, they just went ahead and axed a bunch of IT employees with the stroke of a pen because of similar financial reasons.
Unless one truely envisions 100,000 cottages with 100,000 cottage industries as the backbone of a robust PEI economy, let's please not dismiss an entire group of people who will get the chance to make a good living and live here while they do it instead of Alberta.
You’ll recall the casino that’s not a casino. Well now we’re to have a “call centre that’s not a call centre.” As Phil Taylor, director with AMVESCAP, took great pains to drive home this week at his company’s announcement thereof. From the CBC:
And from The Guardian:
One of the best parts of Youtube has been to be able to remember some old TV show or commercial or historical event and and then enter a quick search on Youtube and find a clip of it. A total goldmines of wonderful memories was opened up when you searched for National Film Board. Everything from humourous short films to historical vignettes to random pieces of art film would come up instantly.
Until recently, anyway. Now if you search for something like Log Driver's Waltz or Port Royale, you just get the message: "This video has been removed at the request of copyright owner National Film Board of Canada because its content was used without permission" in nasty red letters.
Now, of course they have every right to defend the copyrights of the filmmakers who's content they are the stewards of, but the other half of their mandate is to make Canadians more aware of our own history and culture through film. Where before they made their content available to TV stations who needed non-commercial filler to top up a half-hour block of time when the US import show ran less than the minimum 22 minutes, these days all that wonderful NFB content is nowhere to be found on Canadian TV.
So to see them hounding down Youtube to take down their content strikes me as petty. Do they only want Canadians to be able to see these films if they travel to NFB headquarters in Montreal and find an actual film canister in a dusty archive warehouse? Are they planning to use the taxpayer-funded content to generate revenue some time in the future? Either way, it just seems distasteful, like something that was ours is being kept from us.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Best thing I've found in ages, someone has put up all of the episodes of The Great Eastern online in MP3 format. Link.
I would have been about 14 when the show started, and when it first started CBC gave no indication that it was a fictional comedy show, so I remember having that head-scratching 'is this real?' moment for a while when it first came on.
The writing was always really clever and the fanciful way they painted an alternate-universe history of Newfoundland was brilliant.
CANADIAN TIRE SCAM A "heads up" for you and any of your friends who may be regular Canadian Tire customers. Over the last month I became the victim of a clever scam whilst out shopping. Simply going out to get hardware supplies has turned out to be quite traumatic. Don't be naive enough to think it couldn't happen to you.
Here's how the scam works:
Two seriously good looking 18 or 19 year old girls come over to your car as you are loading your stuff into the car. They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts. It is impossible not to look. When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say "No" and instead ask you for a ride to another Canadian Tire store. You agree and they get in the back seat. On the way, they start having sex with each other. Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and performs oral sex on you, while the other one steals your wallet. I had my wallet stolen October 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, three times just yesterday, and very likely again this upcoming weekend as soon as I can buy some more wallets.
I actually do remember you, from way back in the day. I hope you are doing well, are you still on the island, I currently reside in Ch'town. It is nice to hear from you.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
So I'm looking at CNN's electoral map and I see that the CT and VT seats are shown as blue. What the hell is wrong with CNN's graphics department? Lieberman was kicked out of the Democratic nomination and subsequently ran as if he were a Republican. Who knows how he'll vote now that he doesn't even have to pretend anymore.
And in Vermont they have basically my favourite American legislator, Bernie Sanders, who is proudly an Independent, which is how he has served in the House for the past decade and a half.
Why is CNN invested in the notion that you must be part of one of the two major political parties to win a state-wide race?
Note that the map on their Senate race page shows these states in Yellow. But on TV it's just Red and Blue. I guess insulting the intelligence of their TV viewers is just business as usual.
So I just woke up and turned on the TV and saw the US election results. As of right now the Democrats are killing in the House of Representatives, and there are 3 seats left in the Senate to be decided, Virginia, Montana and Misouri.
So basically the Republicans stand to lose control of the Senate exactly because the Senator from Virginia called an opposition campaign worker a monkey, the Senator from Montana insulted out-of-state firefighters coming in to fight forest fires, and because Rush Limbaugh accused Michael J. Fox of "faking" his Parkinson's Disease symptoms in an ad for the Democratic candidate.
Republicans really are fucking stupid.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Inspired by a good conversation today... wish I had more of them.
Anyone obsessive enough to be following the United States' midterm election race will have already begun to read about nasty vote-supression strategies coming into full swing this weekend, from automated phone spam purporting to be from Democratic candidates but paid for by Republicans, designed to annoy voters into staying home (documented on Talking Points Memo), to all of the unfixed problems with electronic voting machines documented in this HBO documentary, Hacking Democracy (Link to full video on Google Video) — you can't help but get the impression that Republicans put their own power above the principle of democracy and that they're absolutely shameless about it.
People looking in on the American political process from other mature democracies are understandably confused at the nation that shouts the loudest about democracy is the one that can't even keep it up at home.
Even in Canada, where I've seen some pretty hard-fought election campaigns, and on PEI where your party affiliation is something many are practically born with, if someone is publicly caught going that one step too far in a campaign he or she is universally shamed and has a hard time working again. For such behaviour in the US they rise through the ranks and eventually become the President's chief political advisor.
One has to ask 'How can Republicans live with themselves?' and 'How can anyone support a party who knowingly and deliberatly dismantles the very democracy they themselves live in?'
I think it goes back to the Civil Rights era — whites in Southern states felt that blacks should never have been given the right to vote in the first place, and with this excuse Southern governors (Democrats at the time, before LBJ's civil rights initiative and Nixon's Southern Strategy brought the racist vote completely over from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party) would openly dispatch police with firehoses and dogs and employ mob violence to keep blacks from polling places.
Since then the overt and open racism of the 1950s and 1960s has sunk below the skin and infected the blood of many Americans. Now all a Republican has to do is say the word 'welfare' or 'tax cuts' and this tickles a little lizard brain memory in the backs of enough voters who instantly hear 'nigger.. nigger' (quote from Lee Atwater: "You start out in 1954 by saying, 'Nigger, nigger, nigger.' By 1968 you can't say 'nigger' - that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites." - Source)
Now, instead of just justifying supression of black voters, this gets extended to poor immigrants and basically anyone stupid enough to vote for Democrats — it's for their own good that these people don't exercise too much influence.
And so here we are, with the media reporting on the election like a horserace and not using the three extra brain cells needed to say 'this party is cheating' - for fear of losing a key group of viewers, and democracy is spirited away in plain sight.
Well, I don't know if Danny Murphy reads blogs or what, but for the last week the Ken St. Tim Horton's staff have mysteriously stopped talking like developmentally delayed robots, no longer repeating the same greeting to everyone who walks up to the counter and actually engaging people in conversation from time to time.
Coffee still isn't as good as Timothy's, and no one can compete with the legendary breakfast bagel, but my temporary Tims ban is now lifted.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
Just picked up a blue iPod nano today at the Little Mac Shoppe on my lunch break.
The service there was exactly what I want a store to do for me, quietly explain the differences between the models, know the product inside and out, and not be pushy or try to upsell me at all. I could have been in and out in two minutes if I hadn't stopped to chat. Clerks at other electronics stores will probably try and push you towards buying some korean knock-off piece of garbage because they get $0.50 more of a commission from it than an iPod.
As for the gizmo itself, taking it out of the package is just as pleasurable as unpacking any other Apple product, i.e., pure sex. Everything fits in its little home so perfectly you feel guilty about disturbing it. Every end of every cable has a little plastic cover, cables are clipped together, not tied, and the box doesn't rattle even a little before you open it up.
4 GB is about enough for 600 songs, which will more than do me for the walk to work or Jussy's place. The new earbuds are more comfortable than the previous model's, but I'll likely go back to my don't-bother-mugging-me black earbuds that I bought before going to Toronto in the Spring.
The photos feature is a cute toy but why on earth can't you zoom in even 2x or 4x? You could load the zoomed image separately from the thumbnails to preserve the stupidly fast picture browsing, and it would let you actually look at what the picture is supposed to be of.
Maybe it's just because it's what I'm used to, but I'm going to have to go into the menus and figure out how to get this thing to start up in shuffle mode. I know all my music, I don't necessarily want to listen to it in the order it was put on the iPod every time.
And finally, the fact that audiobooks and podcasts are now doable, I think I might really start to listen to more of these. If anyone can point to a site to download some that aren't in fucking Swedish that'd be peachy.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
So wait a minute, when the Liberals faced the problem of corporations dodging taxes by using income trusts, their solution was to cut the dividend tax, and now the Conservatives are the ones who are actually doing the sensible thing and eliminating the huge gaping hole and forcing BCE and Telus and all of the Alberta oil extraction companies that are currently set up that way to suck iit up and pay their fair share of taxes?
I still hate the Cons, but this was pretty big of them. With the Liberals still remaining the party of Canadian big business and Bay St. I wouldn't imagine them actually doing this. On the other hand, hopefully the new rules against corporate campaign donations might free both parties a little so that they might act more in the best interest of voters and not donors.
But they're likely so used to doing the opposite by now that it just seems natural.
Quick background for those scratching their heads: An income trust is a special corporate structure where the shareholders draw profits directly from the company, where the company doesn't pay corporate taxes on their own profits. Rather, the owners, mostly pension funds and institutional investors, receive a large share of the earnings and the person who ends up receiving the profits pays personal income tax on this money. The change shifts the tax burden from individuals onto corporations, but takes away a big form of income generation that pension funds have relied on pretty heavily. A normal corporation has less incentive to pay out profits in the form of dividends and instead use the money on internal R&D and acquisitions, since re-investments aren't taxed and it can go towards growth and innovation. Income trusts tend to be more stable, far less sexy companies that generate a steady income but don't really do much beyond their core business. The problem is the large tax hole that Bell Canada and Telus were looking at exploiting by turning their whole businesses into income trusts.
There is fear now that this removes the incentive for these companies to remain in Canadian hands, but I would argue that now that huge pension funds like the Ontario Teachers fund won't e so tied up in these income trusts that this frees up more capital to be spread around the Canadian market, making Canadian ownership more robust generally. These fund managers should have hedged against this announcement as soon as the tax man started sniffing around BCE and Telus's future plans, the big losses on the market today show that a lot of people weren't paying attention, or were counting on the Conservatives to be just as corporate-friendly as the Liberals and not do anything to derail the easy profits train.
Update: God damn why the hell does CBC have a right-wing robo-commentator on every week on Island Morning? Michael Holinka I think his name was, was on and said "what we need to do is tax all corporations at 0%." I'm pretty sure the Fraser Institute doesn't even have such an extremist point of view.