I know I update this blog about once every six months at this point, but it’s because I usually have nothing interesting happen in my life that’s blog-worthy. Wednesday changed all that.
I heard Ken Jennings was coming into town at Powell’s Books to talk about his new book, Because I Said So!, which talks about myths and legends that you might’ve heard from your parents. For those not quite in the loop, Jennings was the guy who went on Jeopardy! back in 2004 and won over $2,500,000 thanks to the show’s then-new rule of staying a returning champion until you were defeated. Since then, he’s wrote a book about the experience — Brainiac — as well as a trivia almanac and a book about maps titled Maphead, so he’s been keeping busy with telling his trivia knowledge to the masses. One of these days I need to pick up Brainiac just so I can do a compare-and-contrast with another book written by another former Jeopardy! contestant: Prisoner of Trebekistan by Bob Harris. Never finished Trebekistan, but it’s still a great read.
So, the event was mostly Jennings repeating stuff from the book and interjecting with a good amount of humor. I follow the guy on Twitter, so I’m used to some of his jokey, sometimes groan-worthy humor, but there were plenty of laughs here and there. After that, there was a book signing in which I snagged a copy and got him to sign it. As well as a picture.
Normally I usually don’t do photo-ops with famous people, especially since a picture in 2009 with a games journalist-turned-game designer looked painfully uncomfortable from his point of view. But I really couldn’t pass this one up, since it’s Ken freakin’ Jennings. Afterwards I hopped on a train and went home — it was pretty late, and I’m usually not out and about at night.
I don’t really give myself time to read books, but I’ll likely read Because I Said So! in the near future and maybe write about it. We shall see.
So yesterday, me, my dad, my aunt visiting from Las Vegas, my uncle and my cousins piled into a rental van and drove from Portland, OR to Seattle, WA for the football game in CenturyLink field. The Seattle Seahawks vs. the Green Bay Packers. I’ve to sporting events in the past: A few Portland Trail Blazer games, a Mariners game in middle school, even a minor league game in Wisconsin a couple years ago, but never to a football game. So this was going to be a fun experience.
Outside of my aunt, everybody, including me, was wearing some form of Packers garb. A shirt, a jersey of Clay Matthews or other supporting members of the team, all that jazz. Our family are Packers fans, we got team shirts, a blanket when they won Super Bowl XXXI, even a big Packers bobblehead that features a soundbite of the Hank Williams Jr. Monday Night Football theme that’s kinda funny now. Personally, I like both teams for different reasons: Green Bay because of their skill and past victories, Seattle because they’re the closest football team, but I had my Packers Super Bowl victory shirt from a year or two ago for the game.
We arrived in Seattle around 3:00, and didn’t take long to get through the large crowd and get inside. Unfortunately we were in the nosebleed section, where we walked up lots of stairs. It was a good view of the field from above, but somewhat of a pain to go up and down in to get to the restrooms or snack bars. Regardless, we snagged some drinks and snacks — $10 for fries and a root beer? Ridiculous — and sat down for kickoff around 5:30.
It was interesting to see the pre-game events where they grab audience members to win prizes, which I’ve seen in the other sporting events I went to. They also had sponsor offers if certain events happened at the game. For instance, if the Seahawks had 3 QB sacks in the game, you could show your ticket stub at a Jack-in-the-Box for a free Jumbo Jack. Funny enough, we walked by the Jack-in-the-Box after the game to see it was closed for the night. Clearly they didn’t want thousands of Seahawks fans flooding the place, and I couldn’t blame them.
Now, if you follow football in any capacity, you may have heard about the bad judgement call by the referees at the end of the game, where they gave the Seahawks the win despite it being an interception/safety by the Packers. Alas, we really couldn’t see it from up there, but when I saw it when I got back, I have to agree: it’s quite bullshit that they decided to stick with the call, even after the fact when they said “Yeah it’s true, it should be a safety; but we ain’t changing the results.” Despite that and getting a few words of encouragement from random Packers and Seahawks fans, we all piled up in the car and got home around 1:30AM.
Would I do it again? Certainly. It’s infinitely better than watching it at home, though it can be deafening to those who aren’t used to the loud noise, like me.
Oh hey, I’m not quite dead. My apologies, there hasn’t been much going on in my world to really justify posting a blog article. Unless people wanna know what I bought off Steam’s recent Summer Sale. (Saints Row: The Third, PAYDAY: The Heist and Just Cause 2. total cost of about $21.) But stuff did happen a few days ago, so here we go.
I found out my friend Elizabeth was briefly visiting town for OSCON, to accept an award. Elizabeth and I have known each other online for about a decade, starting with an old Mystery Science Theater 3000 chatroom back in its heyday. (I still keep up with a few friends from that chat every now and then.) When I found out she was visiting, I was excited to finally get to meet her in person. So we met on Saturday morning and went to a few travel spots. My apologies for no pictures this time ’round, I only took one due to the poor quality of my phone.
First was a Rogue Ales restaurant in downtown. I’m not a beer drinker (most of them have a strong bitter taste I’m not used to), but she wanted to check this place out. We both got a sampler tray of beers, which were all pretty good despite some of them being a little strong. After a little cajoling afterwards, we hopped on the MAX train to go to the Oregon Zoo. I’ve seen the zoo many times but never actually been to it, so it was a unique experience, at least. Most of the animals were in hiding due to the heat (it was about late 80s or so), but what we did see was pretty darn cool. At one point we bought tickets for a train, but realized the trip would take too long and we were kinda pressed for time, so we didn’t get to do that. Maybe next time when it’s not as hot.
Granted, during the whole zoo trip I was kinda exhausted and worn out, though I didn’t say a word because I thought it would’ve been rude to complain. After all, I’m not a kid, I’m a grown-ass man. Despite the heat it was a cool experience and I wouldn’t mind going again someday.
Afterwards, we head back downtown and wait for another internet friend of ours to meet up. However, by the time he showed up it was 4:30PM, and she had to get on a plane in an hour or two, so we couldn’t catch an early dinner. I said my hellos and goodbyes, then headed back towards home, where I bumped into another friend on the way there, as we conversed on the way home.
It wasn’t until the following day did I realize that this wouldn’t have occurred without the internet. I know people are bound to say the internet rots your brain and all that goofy jazz, but I wouldn’t have as many friends in this world had I not discovered it. The internet made this more possible for me, and I am grateful for it.
I hope the next time Elizabeth comes in town that it’s for more than a day, there’s a lot of interesting locales in downtown Portland alone, and that’s not even including stuff like Forest Park and the rest of Washington Park we didn’t see. Even Lloyd Center is an interesting tourist attraction.
I crossposted this to my old Livejournal, because I felt like writing an entry there. But then I realized it’d be helpful to post it in both my old and new blogs, for anyone who cares.
I will say with all honesty that Livejournal has been completely phased out of my life for the past year and a half. I never check it, and most of the people I knew on it have since abandoned it for greener pastures, usually of the Facebook/Twitter/Google+ variety. I’m on all three and check them almost hourly.
When I placed a link to my new blog spot on WordPress, it was more for me to end a chapter of my internet life and start a new one. Plus Livejournal is a remnant of the past, a past that at times I’d love to forget because of stuff I’ve written about myself on there — relationship problems in high school, personal problems, posts that are embarrassing in retrospect — is less than stellar. It’s of a past that still haunts me to this day.
Starting this WordPress blog was me wanting to start anew, to forget the past. Writing stuff about TV shows, suggestions from my internet colleagues, and eventually writing about other stuff I like. Most of the short entries I wrote on LJ are almost perfect Twitter fodder these days. Everything else usually appears on the WP blog because the things I find are interesting enough to write about. I even started a new WordPress blog dedicated solely to goofy gaming stuff, because I felt there wasn’t a big field for such stuff.
The only thing I worry about is failure. Unfortunately, I keep thinking that I have failed. Failed as a writer, as a humorist, and more importantly, as a person. Let’s put it this way: In my father’s 55+ years he’s been on this planet, he went through many personal turmoils but eventually persevered as one of the most important contract estimators in shipyards in the Pacific Northwest for over 25 years. I turned 26 about two weeks ago and I’m still a High School graduate who’s never had a job. I even dropped out of community college. I partially blame it due to laziness but also because of reluctance.
I want to “feign independence” so to speak — have a job/career, a place of my own to live in, and a steady income — but I feel like I’m not quite “ready.” I have to second-guess everything because I’m convinced once I make a choice it cannot be taken back, and if it’s the “wrong choice” it leads to “failure.” It doesn’t help that there are times where I say something and it doesn’t come out right, leading to a humorous but unintended outcome that sticks with me too much. I hesitate because I want it to sound “right.” I don’t want to make a mistake.
This also applies to my writing. There are times where I’ve gone “What the fuck was I thinking writing this?”, subsequently rewriting almost everything I had written so that it sounded like I wasn’t a babbling retard mashing on a keyboard. Or outright not posting it anywhere. There’s times where I’ve written comments and then removed them instead of posting them, for fear of how the person may react. It’s because of misinterpretation. One time I pissed off a high school friend on LJ because I made a sarcastic comment about what to do with her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, trying to use an in-joke from a completely different community. Needless to say she didn’t like that very much. It’s stuff like that makes me go “No, no, can’t say that” and end up deleting stuff I say before I even consider posting it.
This is one of the things I don’t mention much on the internet outside of a handful of people I know and trust. The last times I mentioned stuff like this, I was called an “emo kid” and an “ungrateful cunt.” That’s why I never mention it on the blog, and barely mention it on Twitter or the other social media sites. There are times where it’s justified to act that way, but when I even slip up on simple things and get mocked for it, I can’t help but hide my head under a pillow. I’m one of those emotional people, you see.
Needless to say, my life has been less than satisfactory. And it’s my own damn fault. Not anyone else’s. I think I need to see a therapist.
Okay, maybe this isn’t a secret, but I’m plugging my brand new blog called “You Found a Secret Area!”. You can find it at http://youfoundasecret.wordpress.com/. It’s a site about the obscure and goofy aspects of video games. Wanted to find out about terrible budget PC games? Want to find interesting game mods for your favorite video games? Want to reminisce about the horrors of MTV2′s Video Mods? That’s where you go to find that stuff.
I actually started this about a few days ago but wanted to hold off on the launch until I had a good amount of content, and I think this is good enough. Give me your feedback on the site so I know if there’s anything to improve or write about. Normal blog stuff continues in a few days, I just wanted to plug this baby.
Game shows are a fascinating thing to me. Ever since I watched those huge 6-to-8 hour blocks of game shows back on USA before they became “The Law and Order: SVU Network,” I’ve always loved them. Jenn Frank wrote a wonderful article on Infinite Lives about gaming the system. While largely about gaming in general, she mentions Roger Craig and his history from being a computer scientist to Jeopardy! champion, even mentioning his system on choosing subjects and categories. J.P. Grant wrote a fantastic response to her article about that incident on The Price is Right where somebody made a perfect bid on the showcases, only to find out that a former contestant gave him the exact price. (Interestingly enough, Ted, the guy who gave him the exact bid, later went on Price is Right fan site golden-road.net the day that it aired, slightly bragging about him giving the perfect bid.) These two articles made me think about the other ways game shows have been used to “game” the system.
One immediate thought of “gaming the system” on a game show came to a lesser-known example: A man by the name of Neil Bines appeared on the short-lived NBC game show Caesar’s Challenge around 1993. Caesar’s Challenge was an anagram game: A word of 7-9 letters appeared scrambled. Correctly answering a trivia question gave you a choice of a letter to place in the right spot. The player then had to guess what the word is, based on what letters are in place and the category associated with it. One of the letters was also designated “the lucky slot,” choosing the letter that fell into the lucky slot gave a chance for a player to win a jackpot that started at $500 each day and increased by $500 for each word it went unclaimed. Bines gamed the system by choosing the letter that’d go in the lucky slot, correctly guess the word, win upwards of $1,000-$2,000 for each successfully guessed word.
It’s more interesting during the bonus round. Letter balls rolled around in a cage and were chosen one letter at a time until a certifiable nine-letter word could be formed with those letters. The winner would then place one letter — more if they were a returning champion — and have 10 seconds to solve the word. Successfully solving it won you a car and retired you from the show. Naturally, Bines pulled it off. He walked away with over $38,700 in cash and prizes in a single day. Knowing his way around anagrams made him a big money winner on a simple little show. It’s a really fascinating watch, however the only video to surface is a highlight reel presumably by Bines or a friend of his.
There’s another one involving an 80s game show called “Wipeout.” (Not to be confused with the current game show with the big balls.) In the bonus round, a player had to choose six correct answers out of twelve to win a car. The player had 60 seconds to choose six of the answers they thought were correct, hit a button, and find out how many they have right. If they had all six, the car was theirs. This guy used a system of hitting six in a certain pattern, regardless of whether or not they were actually correct. He’d find out how many he had, go back and change only one, and either change it back if the number was lower or move on to the next one if it was higher. Note this wasn’t always foolproof, this guy was lucky they chose the six right answers in the right pattern. Likely if somebody tried the same strategy it wouldn’t be as perfect as this guy did it.
The last one is the famed incident on Press Your Luck featuring Michael Larson. Larson, a former ice cream truck driver, found out that the “random” board patterns on the giant board were actually predetermined, thus giving him an edge by knowing exactly when to hit the button and stop the board, on two important spaces that gave cash and an additional spin at the board. He ended up amassing $110,237, a staggering amount of cash in 1984. As a result, the producers were unsure if it was fixed or just dumb luck. They aired the episode in two parts, complete with host Peter Tomarken giving an interstitial between the two parts. Once Larson got the money however, he continued to scheme and scheme. One incident was him taking out all his money in $1 bills just to match a certain code on the bill that would award him a trip. With several bags of money in the house, someone broke in and robbed him of about $40,000. Years later, Larson got involved in illegal lotteries and thus was on the run from the IRS and the FBI. Larson died of throat cancer in 1999.
Larson’s trickery ties in very much to Frank’s article talking about “losing” the system. Larson thought he could get away with making more money after winning over $100,000. Unfortunately he lost the game when he tried again and subsequently was a fugitive of the law as a result. The episode where the incident occurs is an exciting moment to watch, but to know what happens afterwards makes it a depressing tale. Instead of a man that could be mentioned in a game show legacy in a positive light, he ends up being no better than the cheaters that Frank mentioned.
There are probably countless other incidents in game shows of people gaming the system, such as Charles Ingram, but I think what I’ve mentioned is enough. It’s really interesting to see people attempt gaming the system on a game show, and even find ways to master it. Hell, I own two books — “How to beat the Wheel of Fortune” and “How to get on Jeopardy! and Win” — that talk about professional game strategies for those respective shows. Despite the simplicity of game shows today, there is a way to use them to your advantage and basically “master” the game. But I think it’s more fun when somebody wins a car on The Price is Right by blind luck. That’s more interesting than somebody making that exact bid.
Alright, so the last time I did a Shop Finds on WordPress was several months back. Since then I was posting them on Tumblr because they were relatively small finds — Blur and Singularity for $7 at the same Goodwill on two separate occasions — but I don’t think that’s panning out so I’m gonna lump them back here. Plus what I got for this occasion is too large for Tumblr.
Here’s the whole kit and caboodle. Two magazines and three games. Well, technically three games, I’ll explain in a second.
First, the magazines. One is a recent issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine (PTOM) from October, covering Batman: Arkham City (the RAGE picture shown is an advertisement). I got this because it was dirt cheap (50 cents!) and it was the fiftieth issue of PTOM. Technically the actual issue number is much higher, they used to be known as “PSM: Unofficial PlayStation Magazine” to distinguish themselves from the original Official PlayStation Magazine that Ziff-Davis ran a few years back. But when they got renamed to PTOM, the issue numbers reset, so I’m guessing this is the 280-ish issue of the magazine.
The other is Official Xbox Magazine (OXM) from September 2007. Talking about the then-unannounced Grand Theft Auto IV, as well as a comparison of the hotly contested music game battle of 2007: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock vs Rock Band. Again, more for nostalgia’s sake, and this was after I stopped buying these randomly around 2006. This was the cheaper of the two, it was also 50 cents, but the thrift store had a sale where anything with a white tag was 75% off, so it was like 12 cents.
Now the three games. First up is Hexen, which is a Raven Software action game on the Doom engine. Originally billed as a sequel to Heretic — until they actually made Heretic II anyway — it was different in that it was a hub-based game where you went back and forth between various areas, rather than just going through each level one at a time like Doom did. I got Hexen II several years ago and I honestly couldn’t play much of that, so I’m hoping the original is better.
Next is WWII Iwo Jima. Famous internet website Something Awful dot com covered a game similar to this called WWII Normandy, presumably by the same developer. Since the guy who reviewed Normandy thought it was a steaming turd, I bet Iwo Jima isn’t any better. I’ll be surprised if it even runs on my Vista box.
The last one is the real interesting one of the lot. The spine calls it Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 Companion Demo Disc. Featured are demos to Rainbow Six 3 (sans the “Raven Shield” subtitle the PC version had), Ghost Recon, Ghost Recon: Island Thunder and Splinter Cell. The demos aren’t the appealing part of it. It’s that the bottom of the cover mentions “new missions for Ghost Recon Island Thunder and Splinter Cell.”
Back in the days before we were downloading digital games through our 360s and PS3s, downloadable content for games on the PS2 and Xbox was very scarce and usually required demo discs or other assorted means to acquire these since not everybody had high-speed internet (some still don’t!). The original Splinter Cell came with three additional downloadable missions available for the campaign mode. These were not available on the PS2 and Gamecube versions (although the PS2 version did get a unique mission not available in the other versions), and the PC version only got it by special means. Since Microsoft shut down the original Xbox Live in 2010, all the original Xbox DLC is now lost to the bowels of time, barring any that they released in disc bundles like this. Since this happened, there was only 3 ways to play these bonus missions:
- Hope to god you downloaded them onto your original Xbox (or 360) before the service shut down
- Find a copy of the Collector’s Edition of Splinter Cell Chaos Theory for the PC, which had a special 1.3 patch that reinstated the missions for the PC Splinter Cell
- This companion demo disc.
Of course, I could be wrong and this may require Xbox Live to work, but I don’t have Splinter Cell on the Xbox to check. That’s gonna be something I’ll have to look into soon. (EDIT JUNE 27: And I did, a few months later. You find the entry here, on my other blog.)
That’s it. This is probably the last shop finds of 2011, and I hope to find more goodies in 2012.
I like shoes. Probably more than a normal man like me should. I like the look, the feel, the designs… sometimes the right pair of shoes can make any person, man or woman, feel sexy. Then around 2-3 years ago I started seeing a new shoe cropping up. They were called “UGG boots,” a simple suede boot with a sheepskin lining. No need to wear socks, they’d keep you warm without them. I wanted to have them.
I am a guy, and I wanted Ugg boots.
I first bought some local knockoff brand. They were nice and black, but they were too tall and folding them over looked weird. I realized I wanted the real deal. So I went to a Nordstrom and tried on a pair of real Ugg branded boots. They felt so soft, warm, and looked cute on me. So I did one of the biggest impulse buys of my life and paid $125 for a pair of these wonderful Ugg boots.
I am a guy, and I now owned Ugg boots.
Thus, I wore my boots. Walked around in snow, mostly rain — I live in Portland, Oregon after all — and even during the coldest of nights. My feet kept warm, and I thought they looked real cute on me. I wasn’t the only one who agreed, many of my friends liked the boots too. But then I came to a horrible realization. While I had friends who liked my boots, there were people who thought differently. Ones who were jackasses wearing their shorts half-way down to their ass and wearing loose Adidas. They’d take a picture of me wearing them, no doubt to text or tweet “Look at this boot-wearing faggot” or similar insults.
I am a guy, and I started to regret owning Ugg boots.
But then I realized another thing. In spite of the mockery online and in real life, saying “they’re for girls” and that they look “uggly, hence why they’re called ugg boots,” I still liked them. I may not be the most fashionable person out there, but I thought my Ugg boots went good with my slacks. I did not feel like I had wasted $125 on something dumb. I didn’t care what others thought of me owning those brown suede fuzzy boots. Why should we limit ourselves to what’s “masculine” or “feminine?” Guys sometimes wear floofy skirts and fishnet tights. Some women go more for a punk tomboyish look. If a girl can look like a dude and not care about what others thought of their looks, then why should I care about what some teenage dickheads think about me wearing ugg boots? Men should get to wear these boots too.
I am a guy, and I love Ugg boots.
Granted, they’re not always practical — unless you live in constantly cold weather — and they tend to look a bit plain unless you mix-and-match your wardrobe with them. But I don’t care, I think more men should wear Ugg boots. They’re soft, comfy, and cute. You may be skeptical, that’s fine. But walk into a store that sells them and give them a try — no socks on, of course. You may become a believer, a fan, and a proud wearer of nice, comfy sheepskin boots. Girls already know about the greatness of sheepskin boots. We just need to convince the guys that they’re cool too.
(While we’re at it, hey Ugg Australia, you need to make those Cardy and Knit styles for men. They probably would work as great house slippers, you’re missing an opportunity when all us men can pick from is just the classic design.)
Last night, Spike TV had their annual video game awards show. For the past 5 or so years I have boycotted the event, saying it was a farce that was completely unfunny and felt like an insult to video games everywhere. I even wrote a blog on Destructoid saying what I want out of a video game awards show.
But Jason Schreier said it better than I could.
Basically, as I’ve said in the past: Don’t watch the video game awards. I got all the news following people on Twitter and IRC, and playing Modern Warfare 2 in the meantime. I bet it’s better if you watch it with friends so you can riff it MST3K-style. While drunk.
I went to a car show last weekend. To be exact, the Portland Classic Car Expo. I’m not a big car guy, but I needed something to do and time to kill, so my friend Bennet brought me along for the ride.
There were a bevy of cars there: Old 50s dragsters, 60s-70s muscle cars, even old 1900 carriage cars. A good section was squared off to specific replicas of famous cars from movies and TV shows. Among those featured was KITT from Knight Rider, two cars from Death Proof, the Hummer from Zombieland, the Eliminator car that ZZ Top used in their music videos in the 80s, and the god damn Batmobile.
They had a lot of muscle cars from the 70s, and even a Datsun car circa 1991 that could almost fit in the modern style. My friend also pointed out how many modern car companies are making their Mustangs and other models look more like the 60s versions as a throwback. Not surprising considering how many of those there were. You can see more of the cars here.
The Classic Car Expo was a nice time-killer for the weekend, surely. Makes me want to find use for my Dad’s 1963 Ford truck. He was restoring it for a few years and now it just lies near our driveway. Wonder how much it would cost to finish it up, or at least sell it as-is…