Readiness Report: Electronic, Ultrasonic.

Here are two images from Tuesday evening’s ultrasound. Click on each to view a larger version in the photo album.

Coming Soon...
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The Turtle
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At one point, there were two ultrasound technicians in the room and one prompted the other to do things like “bring your focus down” and “cut out the harmonics.” I was tempted to suggest that they lock in the auxiliary, but didn’t want to tell them how to do their jobs.

Stay tuned…

Game Night: Guitar Hero and Karaoke Party Revolution

Miscellaneous G™’s love of non-standard console gaming controllers continues, and on Wednesday night he brought his PlayStation 2 over to the Kasa KJToo and we played Guitar Hero and Karaoke Revolution Party.

Guitar Hero features a guitar controller that has five color-coded fret buttons, a whammy bar and a wedge-shaped toggle that can be “strummed” up and down. You play the guitarist in band playing venues that range from garages to sold-out ampitheaters. As the music plays, notes scroll along an on-screen fret bar, and you press the appropriate fret buttons and hit the string toggle in time with the music. Hit the notes just right and the audience loves you, miss a note and you’ll hear a discordant twang and the audience will react accordingly. Songs range from relatively easy (Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”) to damn-near impossible (Pantera’s “Cowboys from Hell”). To keep things interesting, each song can be played at four different difficulty levels.

Karaoke Revolution Party has a USB microphone and plays very much like a karaoke machine. The difference here is that the PS2 is able to tell whether or not you’re on pitch. Your score is based on whether or not you’re singing the song well. Karaoke Revolution Party allows players to build their own singer from a wide array of body, face, wardrobe and accessory options. While I belted out A-Ha’s “Take On Me” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” my on-screen persona (a busty, bespectacled redhead named Shayla) sang along with me. On the former, my recording hit platinum; on the latter, I managed only gold.

Both games are ridiculously fun, but I think I enjoyed Guitar Hero a little more. It’s as fun to watch as it is to play (some songs, like Megadeth’s “Symphony of Destruction” are a blast to watch). The big advantage with Guitar Hero is that you’re not limited by your vocal range as you might be in Karaoke Revolution Party.

And there was much rocking out. And it was good.

Readiness Report: Plus or Minus 22oz.

Laura had an ultrasound last night because the stand-in OB she saw last week was concerned about the results of her glucose test ((The glucose test is used to detect gestational diabetes, which occurs in approximately 2-3 percent of pregnant women and can lead to macrosomia, also known as LGA. The upshot is one big baby.)) (despite the fact that her regular OB wasn’t). The idea of the ultrasound was to get an approximation of my young apprentice’s weight.

After about 45 minutes of … sounding, we were given an approximate weight of 9lbs., 4oz., plus or minus twenty-two ounces. In other words, he could be anywhere between seven and a half and ten and a half pounds.

We also saw proof positive of our son’s… sonness. It was what the technicians apparently call “the turtle,” and we have two very nice pictures of said turtle that I neglected to scan last night. Poor kid. Not even born yet and dad puts his business up on the Internet for everyone to see.

Laura has an appointment with her OB today (as I write this, in fact), and we may find out whether or not they would like to induce labor. She is currently at least 2cm ((Possibly 3cm or more, if what I saw on the ultrasound was correct.)) dilated and the baby is in the proper position for emergence, so they may decide to give things a little boost.

That’d be the best excuse to leave work early. Ever.

Mini Movie Reviews: The Man With One Red Shoe and Zorro, the Gay Blade

The Man With One Red Shoe (DVD)
The Man With One Red Shoe (1985)

Starring Tom Hanks, Dabney Coleman, Lori Singer, Charles Durning, Carrie Fisher, James Belushi, Tom Noonan and Richard Rich, Sr.

Directed by Stan Dragoti

Tom Hanks has been nominated for five “Best Actor” Academy Awards, and he has taken home the statue twice. Alas none of the nominations were for The Man With One Red Shoe. In 1985, it was William Hurt who won Best Actor, for Kiss of the Spider Woman. Who even remembers that movie? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kiss of the Spider Woman, but I do know this: it has nothing to do with Jessica Drew. I’ve got two words for that: false advertising.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I’m digressing. The Man With One Red Shoe may not be worthy of consideration for an Academy Award, and it’s a little dated, but it’s still a pretty darn funny movie. That’s what Tom Hanks did back in the 1980’s: he made pretty darn funny movies. This one happens to feature a very good cast of characters ((Charles Durning doesn’t always do comedy, but he does it quite well. It’s like he can throw a switch and just instantly be funny (see Spy Hard and O Brother, Where Art Thou?).)), a rather interesting take on domestic spying, and Lori Singer in one very, very low-backed gown. ((Not to mention Princess Leia in a leopard-print bikini.))

Zorro, The Gay Blade (DVD)
Zorro, the Gay Blade (1981)

Starring George Hamilton, Lauren Hutton, Brenda Vaccaro, Ron Liebman, Donovan Scott and the original Emperor Palpatine.

Directed by Peter Medak

Pregnant Laura (sold separately) will watch pretty much anything these days. At PregCon 9, she seems quite content to just sit on the couch and rest her weary feet. If whatever is on television doesn’t appeal to her, she’s also quite content to simply fall asleep or read a book (something I can’t do with the television on in the same room).

So, Laura didn’t raise a protest when I suggested that we watch Zorro, The Gay Blade ((Both The Man With One Red Shoe and Zorro, The Gay Blade were shown on Fox Movie Channel. They may not show the newest or the best movies, but they’re all uncut and commercial free, so I’m not complaining. I mean, HBO was showing Garfield: The Movie, for crying out loud.)) last night, but I don’t believe she fell asleep, and that’s generally a sign that she’s being entertained. Either that, or my young apprentice was restless and she couldn’t fall asleep.

Whatever the case, I was fairly amused by Zorro, The Gay Blade. It’s one of those movies from the 80’s that I’d just never gotten around to seeing. It’s also one of those George Hamilton movies that I’d never gotten around to seeing. ((The other one is Love at First Bite.)) I like George Hamilton because he always gives me the impression that he’s really having a lot of fun and he never seems to take himself too seriously.

Zorro, The Gay Blade is the story of Don Diego Vega and his brother, Bunny Wigglesworth (formerly Ramon Vega). Don Diego learns that his recently-deceased father was the legendary Zorro, and takes up the sword and mask to fight injustice and the tyrannical new Alcalde, Capt. Esteban. When Don Diego injures his foot, it seems as though the poor citizens of Los Angeles will be ground under Esteban’s bootheel. Enter Bunny Wigglesworth, Don Diego’s flamboyant brother and (with a little makeup) his dead ringer. Bunny shuns the sword in favor of the whip and takes Zorro’s wardrobe far beyond basic black.

As farcical send-ups go, Zorro, The Gay Blade isn’t bad. Even before Bunny arrives, Don Diego makes a pretty amusing Zorro. Hamilton plays (and looks) the part well, and could probably have donned the mask in a serious Zorro feature if he’d wanted to. Of course, once Bunny is on the scene, El Zorro is well and truly skewered. Nonetheless, it is Don Diego himself who remains the prime source of the comedy, playing well against the bombastic Captain Esteban (Ron Leibman). Also quite amusing is Donovan Scott as Don Diego’s mute valet, Paco.

High-brow, sophisticated and refined it ain’t, but Zorro, The Gay Blade is certainly an amusing diversion on a quiet Monday night.

Weekend Wrap-up for 31 December 2005/01 January 2006

Happy New Year, everybody!

As you’ve probably guessed by now, we didn’t have an “accountant’s baby” over the weekend. In lieu of spending the New Year’s Weekend in the hospital with the breathing and the pushing and the epidural,  ((I think I’m going to get one of those “sympathy epidurals” when the time comes.)) we:

  • Watched Airplane! with the writer/director/producer commentary. That was kind of disappointing, to be honest. It’s a funny, funny movie, but the guys who created it are really rather dull.
  • Got the car seat installed in the MVoD. Fireman Joe was very helpful, offered us some nice tips, then installed the hell out of the car seat! Thanks Fireman Joe!
  • Celebrated New Year’s Eve with Laura’s family. As usual, there was enough food for about triple the number of people eating.
  • Celebrated New Year’s Day/Christmas ((I was initially under the impression that we were celebrating our belated Christmas on Saturday, but found out Saturday morning that it wouldn’t be until Sunday. It was like Santa Claus kicked me in the nuts.)) with Laura’s family. Same deal with the food, naturally. I scored AVP: Alien vs. Predator and The Incredibles on DVD, ran all the necessary Windows updates on my father-in-law’s computer, ((Scary stuff. He was thirty critical Microsoft security updates behind. Next time I stop by his house, I’m just going to turn on automatic updates.)) and “borrowed” his broadband connection to download OpenOffice.org. As the day drew to a close, we watched The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Broken Comment Links: Fixed.

If you tried to click on any of the comment links in the blog since yesterday afternoon, you probably got a “file not found” error. This was due to a change that was made when I activated hotlink protection (someone on MySpace.com was hotlinking one of my images and I thought I’d best put a stop to it). Instead of writing the rules myself, I let an automated widget do it for me. Well, the widget wiped out the rewrite rules that were used to make the WordPress “permalinks” work. Oops. I put the rules back in, and everything should be working now. Hopefully.