Friday, August 29, 2008

Veep Confusion

So, Obama chose an old white guy though he keeps saying McCain is too old to be president. Meanwhile, McCain chose a woman younger than Obama, but keeps saying Obama is too inexperienced. Would someone please explain this to me?


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Same Old Routine

Illustration Friday: Routine

A young lady on the E-train, obviously bored by the same old routine.

I have a few routines I like to do. First of all, I sing classic rock songs in the style of Frank Sinatra: (snapping) "Hey hey mama, say the way you move / Gonna make you sweat, baby make you groove/ Doobie doobie doobie doo..." After the crowd is warmed up, I proceed to my long list of bar jokes:

Two guys walk into a bar. You'd think the second guy would have ducked...

A horse walks into a bar, & the bartender says, "Hey, why the long face?"

A mushroom walks into a bar, & the bartender says, "We don't serve your kind!" The mushroom says, "Hey, I'm a fun-guy!"

Jesus walks into a bar & the bartender says, "Close the door - were you born in a barn?"

A jumper cable walks into a bar & the bartender says, "Don't start anything!"

A termite walks into a bar and asks "is the bar tender here?" (This one's my favorite.)

Whenever anyone says "Thank you for calling," I say "Thank you for answering." Much to Jen's dismay, we took up referring to her years ago as "Joe-mama" (our son's name being Joe, you see.) What can I say, I crack myself up.

Please add your own routines. And don't forget to tip your waitress.


Monday, August 25, 2008

See What Happens?

Treadmill adorned with Rosary Beads by Amanda, creating a shrine to fitness.

Well, the Democratic National Convention begins tonight. For some reason Obama once seen as the inevitable golden boy, is slipping in the polls. Why? Because he didn't listen to me.

Here's an example. At work, the various unions have posted fliers listing the evils of McCain. (Apparently, he's anti-union and pro "right to work." Who knew?) Why aren't there any fliers telling us reasons why blue-collar workers should vote FOR Obama? Well, because he hasn't given us any. And sadly, that goes for all the other issues as well. Rather than saying how he's going to implement "hope and change," Obama has just told us over and over again why McCain is like Bush. When you're the underdog trying to buck the system, you have to do better than, "Vote for me, I'm not the other guy." It didn't work for John Kerry or Bob Dole, did it? And what the hell was Obama thinking even toying with the race card? "You know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills..." Jesus Christ.

And for Vishnu's sake - why is he still licking Hillary's touchas? There's a difference between being respectful and bending yourself into a pretzel to appease someone. After she ran such a mean, below-the-belt, divisive campaign against him, why is Obama making her the star of his convention? Does he really think he needs to prostate himself before her to get her supporters? First of all, if you want to be elected into the ultimate position of power, do NOT announce to the voters that you can't attain it without help; they're going to wonder if you will be able to handle it. Second, since the GOP is currently trying to re-define birth control as abortion, I seriously doubt Hillary's feminist supporters are going to vote for anyone but a democrat. And third, I'm so happy to hear other union members questioning the Media's never-ending claims that Hillary is the patron saint of Blue Collar workers, since she never actually did a damn thing for us. To make things worse, McCain is successfully running anti-Obama ads using Hillary's old tirades against him. It's an underhanded dick-move, but it works. Seriously, is there any question that all Hillary Clinton wants is for Obama to crash and burn so she can return in triumph four years from now? Weak, dude. Weak.

So, my friend, for the last time, here's my advice. Shape up. Grow a pair of testicles and stand on your own two feet. Stop trying to be everything to everyone and go back to being the outsider who is going to shake up Washington. Stop with the "McBush"-"McSame" crap and tell us what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. Otherwise, it's Hillary in 2012. Please, I'm counting on you.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ladies of the San Antonio Ornithological Society

Photo of the yesteryear: San Antonio, 1992, myself and Jeremy. I uploaded this picture to my "golden oldies" folder on Facebook, and the memories started flowing back...

It was the summer of '92, and my fellow soldiers and I were to soon leave AIT at Ft. Sam Houston and go our separate ways. There was one small problem. My civilian clothing pass had been taken away because, at inspection that morning, my boots had not been polished to a ridiculously glass-like shine. My friend Jeremy Beil (Beel? Biehl?) and I had a fun final night planned, and I really did not want to go out and party on the San Antonio Riverwalk in my Class-A uniform. I had suffered through the indignity a few times before. Imagine trying to enjoy yourself in a green suit, hard leather shoes and tie when everyone else is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. No fun.

Jeremy - who retained his pass because he was better at polishing boots than I - was kind enough to smuggle out my civvies in a gym bag. We took a bus to the local USO, where I rented a locker and changed. I remember they had an entire wall displaying "I want YOU!" Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter posters, ending with a vintage 60's poster of a Star Trek TOS Klingon lovingly painted in James Montgomery Flagg's style, complete with the command, "UNITE FOR YOUR EMPIRE!" At any rate, my Class-A's were stashed away and we were ready for fun.

We knew we couldn't get too wild. There was a 1:00 am curfew on Saturday nights, and anyway, we were just looking to feel human again for a few hours. Being the hip, cool, urbane young men we were, we went and saw Star Trek VI on an IMAX screen. (I had seen it about three times, but Jeremy hadn't.) On the way out of the theater, a Drill Sergeant from another company in our battalion - also in civilian clothes - spotted us and motioned us over. I couldn't decide to obey or to run away and pretend I was someone else. Were the cadre at Ft. Sam Houston so desperate to make our lives miserable that they actually had Drill Sergeants out on the town to card our civilian clothes passes? If so, I was severely fucked. Jeremy and I looked at each other, shrugged, and decided to see what would happen.

"Hey, boys," the Drill Sergeant asked with a wink, "you like girls, right?" We blinked, flabbergasted. "You two look like training soldiers to me with those haircuts. Probably haven't had a girl in a while. Well, I got clean girls, nice girls, redheads, blonds, black, Chinese, whatever you like, cheap and clean! What do you like?"

In a flash, I could see the answer to my question was both yes and no. A little background information: Supposedly, at some point in the early '90's, an infantry general had told a general in the medical corps that medics weren't real soldiers. In retaliation, Ft. Sam Houston (the AIT center for medical MOSs) was made the harshest, strictest AIT in the nation. Whereas in basic training we were all told to look out for each other no matter what, in Ft. Sam Houston we were expected to rat each other out and stab each other in the back. Whereas in Basic a mistake was quickly punished, in Ft. Sam Houston, punishment could last for weeks. So yes, they were out on the town trying to make our lives miserable, but no, they weren't carding our civilian clothes passes. Rather, they were trying to entrap us for procuring a prostitute - a criminal offense.

"Yeah, right," I snapped in anger. "They're Clean? What, you have preppie prostitutes?" Jeremy was giving me a wide-eyed "keep your goddamn mouth shut!" look, but I was furious. All the unecessary, crushing, never-ending avalanche of bullshit that I had put up for the past few months - and they were not only trying to ruin my military career but get me a civilain criminal record as well? "Do you have some girls in Catholic school dresses, pimp?" I said, my voice rising. "HEY!" I shouted, "THIS GUY HAS SOME HIGH CLASS HO'S OVER HERE!"

"Fuck off!" the Drill Sergeant growled, giving me a glare that said if we ever met again and it turned out that he outranked me, my touchas would be slashed with razor blades and salt would be mashed into the wounds with a rusty cheese grater. He rushed on down the street.

Jeremy and I had a little discussion at this point. Despite my bravado, I was very afraid, because I could get in major trouble for skipping on the civilian clothes card. I didn't think this guy would backtrack and confront us - after all, we could just be two guys in crewcuts, or soldiers from another base, and he was trying to entrap us. However, if he saw me back on base that night in my class A's, I would be up a certain creek without a certain instrument - disobeying a direct order is disobeying a direct order. We decided to get some dinner and call it an early night.

Part of our plan had always been to patronize the local Hooters, so that's what we did. We had a lot of Coke, (we were both under age, and while that had never stopped me before, there was no one there to buy for us,) a couple of burgers, and a platter of very vinegary wings. Our server was a beautiful woman with brunette colored hair. I know Hooters deliberately hires young ladies with symetrical features, nice legs, and a balcony you could read Shakespeare from merely for the purpose of luring in horny young men, but most of the time it all seems so forced. As I've said before, Hooters is a lesson in advertising: you're promised something you're never actually going to get. However, this one seemed genuinely friendly and spent her frequent trips to our table, (there was a reason we kept ordering Cokes,) joking and talking with us. I told her that I had a bad night. Hell, it had been a pretty goddamn lousy year. I asked if she would mind taking a picture with Jeremy and me and she agreed, calling over a fellow server "so we could look like we were out on a double date and not just a couple of lonely dorks" (her words.) Another customer took the photo, but for some reason, held the camera at an angle. Maybe he was drunk. At any rate, she kissed me on the cheek afterward, (probably a major no-no in the Hooters rule book,) and told me not to worry, it would be all right. I know most of the women reading this are rolling their eyes and sticking their fingers down their throats right now, but too bad. It did make a difference, and it did make me happy for the rest of the night, or at least it calmed my anxiety down quite a bit. Live with it.

I changed back at the USO, gave the recruiting Klingon officer a solemn salute, and took the bus ride back to base, Jeremy happily teasing me along the way. I made it up to the barracks without incident or being spotted long before the 1am curfew. The next morning, we all compared stories. Mine was the happiest. One soldier actually did procure a naughty lady of the night, only to find out afterward that she had stolen his wallet while he was in the bathroom of his hotel room. I don't remember how he explained the loss of his military ID to our Drill Sergeant or how he got the cash to pay for the room, but I don't think it went over well. Another friend who owned a car got loaded, wound up getting arrested for drunk driving, and had to stay another two weeks while he sorted out his legal problems. I laid low all day Sunday. On Monday, never having ran into that "pimping" Drill Sergeant, I took a plane to visit my family in New Jersey.

By the way - Jeremy, if you ever come across this, please say hello, would you?


Monday, August 11, 2008

It's Official, I am a Demigod.

Photo of my Pocket PC of me finally winning NetHack (with tiles instead of ASCII characters.)

When I was a young geek, I had two older friends I admired named Brock & Jay. They were sort of mentor-nerds to me. We would get together almost every Saturday night, watch Doctor Who, and play the games all the cool kids played, like D&D & Star Saga One.

One fateful night back in '89, they installed the holy grail of geek-games on my mother's 286,

Hack. Hack was the successor of Rogue. In these games, characters were represented by ASCII characters. You were an "@", your dog was a "d", Orcs were "O"s - every letter of the alphabet was used, upper & lowercase. Likewise, almost every key had two functions. ("p" is to pay a shop-keeper, but "P" is for putting a ring on your finger, or an amulet on your neck.) If you want to try it out, an XP compatible version called RevivedHack is available. It's a hell of a lot more fun than games where your only commands are up-down-left-right,-shoot.

In the mid-90s, the next definitive version was released, called NetHack. NetHack is like Hack, only ridiculously harder. Sadly, its extreme difficulty makes it more frustrating than fun. (Honestly, now that I've ascended, I don't think I'll ever play again.) The object is to descend into the Dungeons of Doom, retreieve the Amulet of Yendor from the Underworld, bring it up to the Astral Plane, and sacrifice it on your god's altar. Don't ask me why your god needs an amulet - he just does. However, if you insist on Hacking, I'll share a few tips with you:

First of all, yes Virginia, you're going to have to cheat. For those who don't know, Rogue-like games are notoriously linear. If you save, the game exits. When you load, the save-file is erased. It's a one shot only deal. Bullshit. You can have -40 armor & 300+ hitpoints & have some Nalfeshnees, Ki-rins or Archons curse & destroy all you have on the final levels. Are you really going to start all over again? Hell no! After you save, copy your *.sav file & paste it into a backup folder. When you die, simply copy & paste it back! Make sure to note & keep milestone saves, such as capturing a necessary item or genociding a species.

Second of all, when you're powerful enough, kill all the shopkeepers & other-aligned priests. Yes, this will put your luck in the toilet, but don't worry - we'll soon fix that. Collect all the shopkeepers' cash, and every bit of $ you can find. When you have an excess of 25k Zorkmids (the more the better,) find an altar of your alignment with an attending priest. Stand on the altar & chat (#c) with him. When he asks for a donation, give the priest all your cash. Not only will all be forgiven, but you will become very lucky. (See how much like real life it is?) Pray now, and you will be blessed. Now, go back to the other-aligned altars & sacrifice animals to turn them to your god. (Note- don't bother with the altar at the gates of Gehennom, it can't be done.) Once the altars are yours, sacrifice unicorns of other alignments to your god, and your luck will shoot through the roof.

For Bob's sake, find some magic protection! Sadly, you have only two choices- a Cloak of Magic Resistance, or armor made from Grey Dragon scales (slay a Grey Dragon, wear it's scales & read a Scroll of Enchant Armor.) Unlike the other dragons, simply eating a Grey Dragon corpse won't give you the power of its scales. Why? Because the DevTeam are a bunch of dicks, that's why.

Keep a scroll of remove curse handy for when you're ready to enter Moloch's Sanctum, as the invocation ritual to open the sanctum gates won't work if any of your artifacts are cursed. When you're ready to get the Book of the Dead from the Wizard of Yendor, stand in the corner & zap a wand of digging diagonally at his tower, followed by a wand of death. This is the only way to kill him without a fight. (Don't worry, once you're inside the sanctum, he'll come back to life again & again until you reach the astral plane.) Collect a ring of conflict, but don't put it on until you're inside the sanctum. (You're definitely going to need it on the Planes of Air & Fire.)

One more note- do not genocide cockatrices. Yes, they can kill you with a touch, but with a high enough armor class, they can be easily ignored. Find some gauntlets & wield cockatrice corpses as weapons. You can't genocide angels or daemons, but a smack in the face with a cockatrice can turn even the most powerful of them to stone.

Also, get used to these acronyms: TDTTOE- The DevTeam Thinks of Everything, YASD - Yet another Stupid Death, and YAAD - Yet Another Annoying Death. You'll repeat them to yourself a lot.

Well, that's it. I'd suggest checking out Wikihack & reading all their information before starting. Then, when you finally ascend after ten years of trying, you too can look back & see what a colossal waste of your life it's all been. Enjoy!


Friday, August 08, 2008

Exhausted Ramblings

I watched America's Got Talent the other night and I was bored to tears. It's pretty sad, as the show used to actually be entertaining. Nowadays, they're focusing way too much on the reality show aspect. I don't give a rancid poop about what's going on with the performers backstage, their life stories, or about how their only child was ravaged by a satanic hamster infested with AIDS. I want to see people juggling flaming tofu busts of Beethoven while tap dancing and swinging their overgrown lymph nodes back and forth over their shoulders.

Why are some people so self-destructive? Let's look at fat people. Fat people have brains that control their bodies and control their metabolisms, yet they keep the metabolism slow, and continue to pursue bad habits that will probably result in diabetes or a heart attack. Does that mean that the brains of fat people are secretly out to kill themselves? How about people addicted to drugs? Is it, as Leary and Wilson put it, that we are all just out of control robots? If so, who or what is doing the programing? Satanic hamsters with AIDS? Is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle proof that we do not live in a predeterminant universe?

Why do people connect more with fictional characters that real life? Is it because the fictional characters create a shared ideology in group consciousness?

I'm exhausted. I should be in bed, but I'm watching The IT Crowd. Work was exhausting. Complain, complain, complain. At least I have a job. I should just be thankful for the little things.


Saturday, August 02, 2008

"Funny - he looks like a poof!"

Illustration Friday: Poof

When a life-long held ideology goes poof.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Time-Traveling Mariachis, (or T-H-E-M!)

Ok, I give in. Here are the time-traveling mariachis - or, technically, the same mariachi singer from different points in time. (From Sam & Max, Chariot of the Dogs. Now THERE's a game that works, no patch required!)