My wife is having surgery this week. It's a moderately routine surgery, everyone assures me that it will go well, but it is not without some risk.
For this surgery, several relatives have come into town to show support. I'll be open and honest in saying I can't really see the point of them coming. One set of relatives are only coming for the day of the surgery, arriving after she's gone under the knife and departing before she returns from her medicated recovery, meaning she wont even see them. Another set came a couple of days before while my wife has been on an all liquid diet (to prepare for the surgery) and leaving the day my wife gets out of the hospital, meaning they wont be around to help during the few weeks of recovery thereafter. I guess the "support" they are giving is the kind where you don't actually do anything, but whatever. I appreciate it. Sure I do.
Anyway, one set of relatives are staunch Christian Conservatives, or more accurately, Christian Fundamentalists. They view the Theory of Evolution as an attack on their beliefs and refuse to even try to understand what the theory actually says, instead they spout the same tired and misinformed rhetoric that persons like them have spouted for decades. They make horribly off color jokes about Terrorists threatening to burn Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama while Christian Fundamentalists go door to door to collect gasoline donations (the sorts of jokes that somehow wind up offending on multiple levels including being sexist, racist, and morally reprehensible). They also sit there watching Fox News every waking moment of the day without giving a second thought to the hate and lie laden faux news filling their closed minds.
Well, I usually try my best to keep my mouth shut around these relatives, mostly because they are quite old and it doesn't do any good to debate with them anyway (save your strength for the school boards that are trying to insert Intelligent Design into Biology classes). Yet, somehow, something is invariably said that is so grating on my intellect that I have to speak up.
Last night, it was a discussion about how America is a "Christian Nation", founded by Christians, for Christians, and nowhere does it say our founding fathers felt that church and state should be separate. Well, naturally, that made my blood boil, and I had to say something.
One of the biggest problems I have with Nintendo is how formulaic most of their first party games can be. Take a look at the Zelda series, it's a fine series with many memorable and excellent titles. However, most Zelda games can be reduced to the same basic formula: Green clad boy works to save the Kingdom of Hyrule and the Princess Zelda from some evil (usually some variation of Ganandorf). Over the course of the game, Link will hit all of the following: a Lava area (usually accompanied by the Goron), a Water area (usually accompanied by the Zora), a Forest area, an area where he will need to use "heavy boots" to avoid being blown or knocked away, and every dungeon will have keys that unlock doors in them. He will also obtain the following weapons and items: One boomerang, one bow, one bomb bag, and tons of crystals. In the end, most Zelda games can become boring simply because once you've played one, you've played them all.
The Mario games also can become formulaic. Sometimes this is a good thing (like "New Super Mario Brothers" for the DS, which perfected the formula so well you can easily look past the lack of new concepts in it), other times it can be a bad thing. However, generally speaking, I'm someone who loves to see new things tried in tired series (like Windwaker in the Zelda series, or Metroid Prime in the Metroid series). Which is part of the reason I love Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii so much.
This last weekend was apparently my birthday, so my wife took me to the Irvington Halloween Street Festival thing. It was pretty fun, nothing spectacular, but it was okay. It was mainly fun to people watch... and dog-watch as a lot of people had their dogs dressed up in Halloween costumes.
We also went to some Handicraft fair in this old theater. This didn't really sound very appealing to me at first, I kind of thought Jessica was just offering me the Halloween festival to get me to take her to some crappy craft fair :-)
However, once we got there, I kind of dug it. The theater was old and in moderate disrepair, the insides were dark and muted. It honestly fit in with the whole Halloween theme, even though I doubt that was the intent.
The acoustics in the theater were terrible as well, and there was this band up on stage playing music way too loud for such a place. It made it hard to talk to the vendors, and at first I was kind of annoyed by the sound. But soon, I realized that I was getting into the music and that the band was actually really talented.
The band's name is Amo Joy, and they have a MySpace page here. They play this really interesting eclectic music. The lead singer, Adam Gross, has kind of a Mathew Sweet look, and sounds like an upbeat cross between a Monkee and Thom Yorke. They use interesting sounds like kazoos, toy pianos, and bells. With all of this, they are very fun to just watch. Couple this with the fact that it was Halloween and they wore costumes (Alison Pitt, member of the band who usually has some of the most interesting instruments, wore a Tinkle Bell or fairy outfit) and it was a very entertaining show.
Anyway, I bought a CD from them... which unfortunately didn't work (my suspicion is the CD label was put on off-kilter and this throws the balance of the CD off when you try to play it). So I emailed the band and they showed me where you can download their album. It can be found here, and I'd highly recommend checking them out, especially if you like more eclectic and independent music like I do.
If you want a good sample of their work try out "The Sane Design" or maybe "Ready Hezzie?" (which is kind of off-the-wall and just crazy fun). In fact, "Ready Hezzie?" reminds me a lot of Twink (probably the toy piano thing).
Anyway, check them out, they are pretty cool.
Well, it's that time again. Hallowe'en, or All Hallows Eve. Traditionally, my favorite holiday... Partially because it is so near my birthday and partially because I'm a ghoul. For kids (and adults) everywhere it's a time to dress up as something you're not (or, maybe, you secretly are) and run around like a fool demanding candy and threatening retribution in the event that said candy is either non-existent or less than expected.
So, in the spirit of the season, I'm here to give you some advice on this entire enterprise.
In summary (for those of you averse to reading), my advice is quite simple: The best candy comes in red packaging.
Yep, that's it. If you believe me (or are some lazy bastard who doesn't like to read) then you're done. Close the browser (or your tab) and go get your loot. However, if you need more convincing, read on...
I realize it's not yet the end of the year, but I don't think it's too early to state that 2007 will likely be remembered as the Year of the Shooter. This year there will have been released some of the greatest (if not, the greatest) first person shooters of all time.
This past year we've simply had some incredible FPSes. Let's take a look at them (in no particular order)....
Chances are, if you're reading this you've heard about my Xbox 360 hardware troubles. About a year ago I had the infamous Red Ring of Death problem. I had to send in my 360 for repairs. I remember it being quite painful as my 360 was out of warranty and I had to cough up the money ($140) to fix it.
A couple of months later, Microsoft extended their warranty from 90-days to 1 year and then 3 years. This warranty was apparently done retroactively and covered my 360. As a result, I was sent a refund for my $140 that I had spent on my system and a new warranty was tacked on to my system from the date when the console was returned to me. All of this was surely done to avoid (or maybe just to stave off) any hardware related lawsuits.
So a year goes by, my 360 is running fine and I'm enjoying all the amazing games that have come out for it.
Then, at the start of this last summer, some strange things started to happen...
This has been a long time coming, it's been something that I've been thinking about for a while now. Basically, around 6(ish) months ago I stopped being interested in leading up events over there. Couple this with the fact that ClanAM's success was kind of hampering my enjoyment of the game (every time I'd log in, I'd get a billion people sending me /tells or otherwise making a big deal out of me being there... it's flattering to be sure, but it also gets tiresome really quick) and you can see why I've needed a good break.
Well, my break came in the form of my 360 breaking down... again. If you recall, last year I had a RRoD that cost me my 360 for around a month while it was in for repairs. Well, I've got another problem with it. This time, it's not any RRoD issues, but what I am getting are glitches and crashes whenever any XMA audio-file is played. Basically, whenever I play games like Bioshock or Burnout Revenge my system starts glitching out and will eventually crash.
Anyway, being without my 360 and unable to play FFXI has made me realize it was a good time to make a break... So I did.
So, I've mentioned before that I suffer from some sort of insomnia. It's been that way my entire life. Recently, I've been trying various medicines and things to help me sleep better. I said a couple of weeks back that I've tried various things like Ambien, Lunesta and herbal remedies like Kava. Nothing has worked.
My big problem isn't staying asleep, as is the case in a lot of insomniacs. Once asleep, I'm good. My problem is falling asleep. I fight sleep every step of the way so even the most harsh medicines are less than effective simply because I can overpower them with my will and desire to not sleep. This isn't a conscious decision or effort, it's not something I can control and I usually am not completely aware that I'm doing it.
Anyway, because I have also had a tendency towards medicines affecting me very strongly, especially in the form of side effects (for example, Paxil, Zoloft, etc. all gave me severe tremors and vicodin makes me severely "wonky"), and because medicines that do work for me usually work too well (resulting in me effectively losing the next day due to excessive grogginess) my doctor decided to have me try Sonata which had relatively few side effects and has a biological half life of about an hour (meaning it should be mostly out of my system by the next morning even if I do have bad reactions).
The problem? Sonata is expensive... and my insurance company didn't want to pay for it. Read on for more...