Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm Not Old...

King Arthur: Old woman.
Dennis: Man.
King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: I'm 37.
King Arthur: What?
Dennis: I'm 37. I'm not old.

Upon awakening on my most recent birthday, this was the first thing I thought of, which means a) I need to reduce my intake of British comedy and b) I guess I have a sense of humor (at least) about the whole aging thing. Got my hair cut yesterday, there's a few silver threads in the weave but not too many at this point.

I've lost about 35-40 pounds this year, I'm in considerably better shape this birthday than last, though more activity in 2006 will be in order since I have a basically sedentery job. It's the eternal struggle, I suppose, until the Eternal Rest. Either way, it's a good ride.

Save Farris!

This guy gets points for adaptability, initiative and luck, but probably sets a new record for lack of judgement. Kid hops a flight to Kuwait, tries to get into Iraq, fails, calls his parents, flies to Lebanon and spends a week with family friends, then flies into Baghdad and presents himself at the AP offices "to work". Sixteen years old.

The AP calls the MPs, and Farris gets bundled on a flight back to the US this morning.

Quite an adventure, but not really the brightest move ever.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

What did I get for Christmas? Addicted!

Hope all you folks are having a great holiday. We've seen almost all of our family on both sides, and enjoyed each other's company immensely. As far as I know, everyone has either gotten what they wanted or something better, so that's a pretty good score on the Gift Index.

Maddie got clay and art materials. Ross got the Mace Windu ForceFX Lightsaber. Ellie got a drum set. Marci got lots of cleaning equipment, body armor and earplugs (actually, she got an iPod Nano). What did Daddy get?

Well, besides some books and a game or two I wanted for the PSP (and some clothes that are on backorder -- "Ships within 24 hours" my foot), I got Guitar Hero. Sounds lame, you say? Well, that was what I thought, too.

First, I'm a techno-snob, and the PS/2 is getting a bit long in the tooth. The XBox is really a more sophisticated system, and both the XBox and the PS/2 are pocket calculators next to the multi-CPU 3.2 Gigahertzness that is the XBox 360. I had mentally written off the PS/2, and even though I take magazines like Game Informer, PS/2 titles didn't draw my interest. The PS/3 will be out this spring/summer, and the PS/2 is a legacy now. I had vaguely read a review or two about this game, the capsule review is "Dance Dance Revolution with a Guitar", and since I was awful at DDR that was all I needed to know. NEXT!

Then a couple of Saturdays ago we were in Best Buy (known in our house as 'The Daddy Store') and Guitar Hero was the demo game. Not wanting to dismiss the game entirely until I had played it, I picked up the half-size guitar with a strum bar and five fret-buttons, cued up "More Than A Feeling" by Boston and I. ROCKED. OUT. MAN.

The buttons you're supposed to press slide down a video fret board to you, and you have to strum to hit the right "notes". If you're on time and on the right note, the guitar part in the song plays and sounds like you're expecting. If you're not on time or if you hit the wrong note, you get the plaintive "ploink" that all beginning (or in my case retired beginning) guitar players know and hate -- the Muffed Note Of Failure.

Aaahh...but success is the closet thing a lamer like me with a barely-functional left hand (I'm just clumsy, not handicapped) will ever come to playing in a band and making music. I was hooked immediately, and would have bought it then had BB had any in stock. They didn't so I 'had' to go back several times last week to 'see' if they had any more -- and play 'Smoke On The Water' and 'I Love Rock & Roll' a few more times.

Yes, I know this is ridiculous, and that point was brought home to me while standing in the aisle at Best Buy, proud of myself for finishing a song and not getting booed offstage, when Platnium-selling Country Music Artist Neal McCoy walked down the aisle behind me, smiled and waved. That kind of put it in perspective, sort of like playing Schroeder's piano really well in front of Van Cliburn. Stick to reading films, buddy.

Nevertheless, I finally found the game at Circuit City, opened it last night and I think I'm getting calluses from the non-existant guitar strings, and probably carpal tunnel, too. I've beat it on 'Easy', and now I'm just a few songs away from beating it again on 'Medium', with 'Expert' and 'Hard' left to go. The 'Easy' level only used combinations of three keys, Medium uses four of the five fret keys and a slightly more frenetic pace, which I assume will become close to impossible at the higher levels. Funny thing is, the less I think about what to do the better I perform...go figure. I guess the music interpretation and rhythm prediction portions of my brain are not used to taking the foreground.

If you have a PS/2, get Guitar Hero. Bring your guitar to my house when you come visit and I can stomp you (unless you're David or Todd, in which case I'm probably in over my head) in Head-to-Head Mode. It ROCKS!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Corollary to Godwin's Law

For any of you that are political message board junkies like me, you've probably heard of Godwin's Law, which states that:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

This has become such a fact of life on the Internet that an appeal to Nazism (also known as reducto ad Hitlerium) has become the rhetorical equivalent of waving a white flag.

But there is some push-back, because sometimes a comparison to the Nazis is apt and sometimes it's not just a "Bush=Hitler!" statement but a parallel to economic conditions, etc. I am observing behavior online among some internet veterans that leads me to believe that Godwin's should be expanded thusly:

Duvall's Corollary:

The longer a political thread goes on without reference to Hitler or the Nazis, the probability of the mention of Stalin approaches 1.

I think this about covers it. People too smart to mention Hitler and subject themselves to ridicule now find themselves Hitler's stunt-dummy Stalin to substitute for the horrific excesses of the Nazis -- which, as bad as they were, were actually a mediocre effort compared to Stalin's Great Terror, his mass purges and planned starvation of Ukraine. Hitler killed millions, Stalin killed tens of millions AND outlasted Hitler.

So there you have it. I have submitted my entry to Wikipedia, we'll see what happens.