It’s [cl/sl]obberin’ time!

Fantastic Four (Xbox)Fantastic Four (Xbox)

The new Fantastic Four Xbox game had two things going for it that the recently-released Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction game did not:

  1. It has a cooperative multiplayer mode.
  2. Blockbuster had it in stock last night.

Miscellaneous G™ and I played for about two hours last night and it appears to be a decent game. There are some silly camera angle problems that developers (of any video game, really) should have been able to eliminate by now, and we ran into a couple of areas where characters became unexpectedly stuck or unable to move without falling to their death. Oh, and the voice acting is consistently dreadful throughout. Sometimes having the cast of the movie upon which your video game is based doing the voices for their characters isn’t necessarily a good thing, I guess. Still, the execution of the various powers works well and the game is about as entertaining as most other multiplayer co-op beat-’em-ups I’ve played. Whether the single player game will be up to par remains to be seen.

On a mostly unrelated topic, it turns out that my wife is still a nerd. I know that there are one or two people on the planet who don’t frequent the forums at KJToo.com, so I’ll share her haiku triad here:

Kris has hit the mark:
His spawn is in my belly.
(Pass the ginger ale.)

What chance does it have?
With our genes, (s)he’ll doubtless be
Blind, blond(e), and nerdy.

O, how life will change!
Soon, no more sleeping til noon…
And no more Xbox.

Her dire predictions of an Xbox-less existence will not come to pass. They cannot come to pass! I’m going to buy one of those mini controllers for Baby Johnson. S/he’ll be playing Soul Caliber II before s/he’s off the teat!

P is for Plastic People.

Busy, busy weekend.

On Friday we had a “team event” at work. My team consists of five peons and one overlord, and we decided a month or so ago that we’d all like to see the Bodyworlds 2 exhibit at the Great Lakes Science Center. Most of us ((All but one, who opted to drive his motorcycle and wound up having to leave before dinner.)) piled into the MVoD at noon and within moment escaped the gravitational well of the office. We had lunch at ¿Que Tal? and then it was off to the Science Center.

The exhibit was fascinating. That Gunther Gebel-Williams von Hagen is either a straight-up old school mad scientist or a stone-cold serial killer. Either way, he put together an impressive array of human cadavers that provides unprecedented insight into human anatomy. I came away amazed that the world doesn’t break us into tiny pieces on a daily basis.

After the exhibit ((We also saw Mystery of the Nile at the OMNIMAX theater. It’s the story of the first expedition to ever successfully navigate the Nile from its source to the Mediterranean Sea. It was breath-takingly beautiful and the music was excellent. I’m hoping there’s a soundtrack CD available online.)) we proceeded to the New York Spaghetti House for dinner. We all split the mozzarella marinara appetizer and I enjoyed a raspberry martini, house salad (excellent dressing), lasagna and tiramisu. It was all excellent.

HALO 2
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Saturday morning I was supposed to go cycling with Bob, but it rained, ((Well, it threatened to rain. We argued that the precipitation factor was simply too unpredictable to chance. We’ve both got caliper brakes on our bicycles, and they don’t work all that well when wet.)) so we opted to forgo the cycling in favor of breakfast at IHOP. To make up for not doing 10+ miles on the bike, I practiced my power-eating on four pancake-wrapped sausage links and a large orange juice. I’m pretty sure that qualifies as aerobic exercise.

Project Gotham Racing 2
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After breakfast, the Xbox LAN party commenced. ((While I was getting my game on, Laura and her mother spent the day shopping for porn corn. I’m told that they actually bought some sweet, juicy porn corn, too, but I won’t get to experience it until this evening.)) There was much playing of HALO 2 and Project Gotham Racing 2, which lasted until at least one wee hour of the morning. I got home at about a quarter of two on Sunday morning and was just as surprised as Laura to find me still in bed when she got home from church at one in the afternoon.

Laura and I had lunch at Red Robin, did a little shopping, then went home so I could get the printer connected to her newly-moved PC. I played a little Tetris Worlds while Laura napped, then I mowed the lawn. It was just the sort of hectic, fast-paced, action-packed day that separates our thrill-a-minute lifestyle from the mundane, humdrum existence of “normal” folks.

Apart from learning that Laura is eighteen weeks pregnant, that pretty much sums up our weekend.

Trading Spaces

Due to Laura and I switching offices, I’ve got some technical hurdles to overcome regarding Intarweb access. Our ability to check e-mail, forums, update blogs, etc. from home is likely to be a little on the spotty side over the next few days.

Uhh… what happened to my sidewalk? (Part Deux)

There are at least seven areas in my neighborhood where the sidewalk is torn up, one of which looks to be about twenty-five feet in length and another that spans the entire width of someone’s driveway. This morning there were manly-man types with a cement truck readying to fill in the holes at the Oak Ridge/Euclid intersection.

Still no explanation of why the holes are there. I should have stopped to ask the guys, but their truck created a nice bottleneck at Oak Ridge and there was another car waiting to turn in as I was leaving, so I opted not to dawdle and called the construction company once I got to work.

The construction company is doing work for the city, replacing the sidewalk according to their contract. The nice lady advised me that I should have gone down to the courthouse to sign an estimate for the replacement. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered doing that. She advised me to call the city Service Department.

So I did. Seems the construction company is way behind ((Three years or more behind. Seriously.)) on their contract with the city. There’s a possibility that the previous owner of our house was required to pay for the replacement of the sidewalk prior to selling it. I guess you only really need to have that kind of work done if you’re selling the house. Which we’re not. We’re blowing it up and erecting a 100-foot tall marble obelisk in its place, but not until 2012.

The city is going to check their records and get back to me regarding who authorized (and more importantly, paid for) the work. Let’s just hope that my intermittent somnambulism isn’t so severe that I’m driving to the courthouse and authorizing sidewalk repairs in my sleep.

EDIT: 11:50AM – Laura just got off the phone with the city. We have no financial responsibility for the replacement of the sidewalk. It was apparently a “point of sale” obligation for a previous owner.

Ants, too.

We really do have ants. Itty-bitty tiny ones.

First they were in the kitchen. We sprayed and set traps and that seems to have done the trick. Late last week, they got into the cats’ food and water dishes. I didn’t want to spray where the cats have been eating, so I cleaned up both dishes and set up another trap. No dice. The ants, they love the cat food. So I cleaned both dishes and moved ’em again.

This morning, the ants had not only found the dishes once more, they’d found the main food supply. Crap.

I dumped out the remainder of the food, cleaned up the dishes once again, sprayed in the laundry room (where we keep the cat food), filled the dish with the last of the canned cat food and headed to work. Late, naturally.

I have a feeling I’m going to have to take more drastic action against these tiny invaders. Armageddon!

Uhh… what happened to my sidewalk?

Pedestrians attempting to walk past the house since Friday have had to deal with this:

Sidewalk Hole

Who tears up sidewalk on a Friday?

Despite the fact that Laura was home all day on Friday, no one came to the house to say, “Hey, I’m from [company], and I wanted to let you know that we’re going to be digging up a chunk of your sidewalk.”

I’m guessing it was Comcast, as I saw one of their trucks next to a similar hole about a half mile from the house. Still, it would have been nice to be notified that they’d be digging up my sidewalk and not repairing it for a few days. The hole (as evidenced by the picture above, which I took about 10 minutes ago) is still there today. If it’s still there tomorrow, I’m going to start making phone calls.

“Yo, yo, yo, where the courtesy at?”

I never remember to take the “Before” photo until I’m halfway to “After.”

Yesterday, I began the process of moving Laura’s stuff into my office and vice versa. The sheer amount of crap ((In days gone by, I would have objected most strenuously if my “stuff” were to be so classified, but I’m afraid it really is crap. In the best possible lighting, one might generously call it “junk.”)) I had in my office was daunting, to say the least. Nonetheless, I managed to clear out most of the stuff that wasn’t on a desk or bookshelf, vacuumed the floor and hauled in two filing cabinets. That’s in my (old) office. Apart from relocating a two-drawer filing cabinet, I haven’t even touched Laura’s (old) office.

In moving the smaller filing cabinet, I discovered that the underside had gotten wet at some point in the past and rusted, forming a nice, firm bond with the carpeting. I wrenched the filing cabinet out, cleaned it up, then sanded and painted the rusted spots. I also took a stab at cleaning the carpet, but I should really shampoo the whole office before I move all of my stuff. ((Not going to happen.))

Stuff I hauled into the garage until I can find a better place for it:

  • Books. Lots of ’em. MCSE and Network+ study guides, various Linux-related tomes, tons of Star Wars references, and altogether too many role-playing game manuals.
  • Two 15″ computer monitors.
  • One largely functional Linux PC.
  • A box of books on tape.
  • A SEGA Genesis with a handful of cartridges.
  • Two magazine racks full of magazines (Entertainment Weekly, Game Informer and WIRED).

Before I can start moving computers around, I need to actually clean off my (old) computer desk, which is actually an armoire. The biggest problem will be finding a place to put all the crap that I’ve accumulated over the past ten years. I’ve already thrown away much more than my nature would normally allow, yet I have the feeling that I’ll have to part with more if the desk is ever to be truly cleaned. Maybe I’ll take a picture of the desk in its current state before I clean it.

Batman Returns, more or less.

Batman and Robin - The Complete 1949 Movie Serial (DVD)I finished up the 1949 Batman and Robin serial over the weekend, and I must retract something I said about it in a previous post. See, I asserted that the 1949 version of Batman had no utility belt. Boy, was I wrong. He may not use any bat-gadgets in the first half-dozen or so installments, but when he finally does, it’s a doozy.

Minions of the fiendish Wizard lure The Dark Knight and The Boy Wonder into a trap, seal them in an airtight room and pump CO2 (that’s carbon dioxide, kids!) in through the vents. Robin, whose job description apparently reads “fall unconscious at the first hint of danger,” collapses in a heap on the floor. In classic cliffhanger fashion, the episode ends with Batman slumping to the floor as well. Is this the end of the Dynamic Duo?

Of course not. You only think you saw Batman fall face-down beside Robin last week. In reality, Batman knelt next to his sidekick and instructed Robin to breathe through a special device. A device he retrieved from his utility belt. Turns out that big old belt has both function and form. In fact, there’s a full-sized, fully functional acetylene torch on Batman’s hip, complete with ignitor and hoses that lead… well, let’s not think about that. Batman wasn’t really into miniaturization in those days, I guess. After cutting a hole in the door, Batman tucks the torch back into the ridiculously huge holster on his utility belt. How is it that I didn’t notice that thing before? It boggles the mind, really.

You know what? That’s why I love those old serials. The sheer audacity employed in getting the heroes out of one seemingly fatal scrape after another entertains me. I chuckle to imagine the audience going to the theatre week after week to find out how Batman and Robin (or Flash Gordon) managed to escape certain doom. Would there be any cries of “That’s impossible! They were both aboard the plane when it exploded last week!” or “They didn’t have time to get to the trapdoor!” or did the audience simply accept that they didn’t really see the Caped Crusader fall into the pit a week ago?

Even the revelation of the Wizard’s identity in Chapter 15 is a big cheat, but there’s no reason to spoil it for future viewers, is there? I don’t know what the official moratorium on spoilers is (probably less than fifty-six years), but I’m not telling you who the Wizard really is. You’ll just have to find out for yourself.

Firefly, vampires and superheroes (but mostly Firefly).

Firefly: The Complete Series (DVD)Laura and I finished watching the fourth (and final) Firefly DVD after dinner last night. Now we’re all set to see Serenity when it is released in theaters next month. I think Laura likes the series more than she lets on, though I’m sure she’ll deny it. One thing we do agree on: the theme song sucks. Not the music, mind you, the music is good. The lyrics (and the guy singing them)… that’s another story. Die-hard Firefly fans get all weepy about the theme, but I fast-forwarded through it after hearing it twice. No thanks. I do listen to the instrumental version that plays over the end credits every time, though. That one I like.

I completely missed Firefly when it was on Fox. Not surprising, since I tend to avoid Fox (except for Family Guy and occasionally The Simpsons) whenever possible. Don’t even get me started on the local Fox news program. By missing Firefly, I also missed the hubbub surrounding its cancellation. I know that there was a massive fan outcry that led to Serenity being green-lighted, but I wasn’t part of it and really didn’t think much of it until I actually sat down and watched the series.

And? It’s a good show. The concept (Stagecoach in space) sounds a little weird at first, but it works surprisingly well. It helps that so much attention has been paid to the look and feel of the universe as a whole. The particulars of the story are very interesting, and the primary cast is quite good. I wasn’t all that taken with Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Filion) at first, but he kind of grew on me. The crew of Reynolds’ Firefly-class spaceship, Serenity, is an interesting bunch. There are nine altogether (including Captain Reynolds), so I’m not going to get into each of them, but my favorites are Book (Ron Glass), Jayne (Adam Baldwin) and Kaylee (Jewel Staite). Book is a mysterious “Shepherd,” a wandering holy man with a hidden past. Jayne is a straight-up mercenary who is entirely capable of selling out his shipmates if the price is right. And Kaylee… sweet, sweet Kaylee is a dream made real, the embodiment of innocent beauty. To quote Wash (the ship’s pilot), “Were I unwed, I would take [her] in a manly fashion.” Yeah. She’s something else. Oh, and I guess she fixes the ship, too.

After we watched the last three episodes and a couple of the special features, I went upstairs and fired up Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption.

Alas, it just wasn’t good night to be a vampire. Christof, Wilhem and Serena were given permission by the Kindred Prince of Prague to enter Ardan’s Chantry to learn more about the disappearance of several humans and Kindred. Ardan is a member of the Tremere clan, and his Chantry is occupied by numerous Tremere Regents, Neonates and Apprentices, most of whom can cast fireballs. Vampires don’t much like fire. After several unsuccessful attempts to defeat the Tremere and their creatures (gargoyles and annoying, frog-like beasties called “hoppers”), I decided to trade in my fangs for spandex and superpowers. I completed a couple of missions in City of Heroes and then went to bed.