Sunday, October 30, 2005

This sounds like an act I'd like to see on Jackass sometime.
I saw The Mikado performed by Lyric Opera San Diego Friday night. It was my first opportunity to see their newly restored theater. I have tried to visualize the block in my head pre-restoration, and cannot (you can see a photo of the theater mid-construction on, with a little scrolling), but it looks nice now. The marquee on University has been fixed up, but the main entrance is actually on the side street. Probably a wise choice, but I hope they plan a more aesthetic fix to the University entrance, which is currently boarded up with plywood and makes an odd juxtaposition with the flashing lights of the marquee. The lobby is nice, with art deco posters on the walls and an antique silent movie projector near the concessions stand. The lobby was a bit cramped during this sold-out performance, but not too bad. The actual theater is quite pretty, and gives the Lyric Opera a lot more room for staging and the orchestra. The lighting protrudes into the auditorium, which is unfortunate, and the seats are a bit too cozy, with the leg room barely being sufficient for myself, but these are minor points. All in all, they have restored this vintage movie theater (the first suburban theater in San Diego, at a time when this neighborhood called to mind the description "suburban") quite nicely (I understand there are plans to show films here again, through some cinema society, which is very exciting)

This was my first time seeing a full-length Gilbert and Sullivan production (I've seen Trial by Jury before), and I enjoyed the experience. The Mikado presents a deliberately naive Victorian fantasy of Japan, utilized as a satire of the absurdities of the British judicial system, among other elements of English existence. And surely many of the production's points are applicable to our society today as well. Lyric Opera San Diego's production was sure to insert some jabs at our local political messes, with Pooh-Bah's multitude of meaningless titles now including the mayor and various city council seats currently unfilled in San Diego, thanks to the pension mess and some corruption convictions. Most additions of this kind were amusing, though I cringed when they slipped in a Lorena Bobbit joke (which left me wondering when the Judge Ito joke would surface). The cast was uniformly strong, with Nanki-Poo and Katisha standing out (I don't have the program in front of me to recognize the actors by name). The stage design was spare but effective, and the orchestra was wonderful. The acoustics of the venue were adequate--there are better venues in town, but there's really nothing to complain about. Overall, I enjoyed myself. This was my first Lyric Opera San Diego performance, but will most likely not be my last.

Friday, October 28, 2005

In a sneaky maneuver, a Christian broadcaster is attempting to appropriate a high school's radio station frequency. You can find an address to write to the FCC in defense of the school and local control of radio at the station's website.
Libby indicted, resigns.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Do they know it's Halloween?
Miers withdraws Supreme Court nomination. In other news, Fitzgerald is expected to announce indictements tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I witnessed a nasty accident on my way home from work today. A motorist hit a bicyclist, and sent her flying a fair distance. She seemed banged up pretty good. Crying a lot, and seemed in a lot of pain when they put her on the stretcher, but at least she was alert. I was the only person besides the two involved who witnessed the actual collision (and stopped). Unfortunately for the bicyclist, I had to tell the police she was riding in the wrong direction (though the driver still should have looked both ways before pulling out). Hopefully, her injuries aren't too severe (and fortunately, she was very near a very good hospital).
Kansas to teach Stork Theory alongside Pregnancy Theory.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rosa Parks, dead at 92.
I have a paper due Thursday for a film class I'm taking. I hadn't done much preparing, but I was going to really buckle down tonight, and take notes on all the films I would be writing on, and then go to the library tomorrow. One topic we could write on was a particular filmmaker or comedy team, and I got the idea to write about Ealing Studios comedies, as a sort of comedy team. Seemed like a fun topic, on which I should be able to find a lot of material. Then I was looking at the syllabus of the course this morning, and I happened to linger a bit on the title of the course: "American Comedy Films." And slowly it began to dawn on me that maybe my topic was somewhat flawed given the regional scope of the class. So now I'm at square one.

This quarter hasn't gone that great. It'll be fine, I've just slacked off a lot, not put in much effort. There weren't really any classes offered that would fill the last few holes which need to be filled to graduate, so this quarter really seems rather inconsequential. So even a very easy assignment (like the four-page paper mentioned above, for a lower-division class) seems like too much trouble. I'm sure it'll all turn out fine in the end, but I'll be glad when this quarter is over, and I can maybe accomplish something in the spring.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Copyright issues lead to Strangers With Candy's distribution deal being dropped. Little did I know that, months later, the painful legacy of The Dukes of Hazzard: The Movie would linger on. Hopefully someone else will release this, at least on DVD.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I saw Tim Burton's Corpse Bride on Thursday. Rather enjoyed it. I've always been somewhat ambivalent about Tim Burton. Even his movies I haven't really cared for are still fun to look at, and his best films are wonders. But I remember not really having any strong feelings either way when I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas. And as much fun as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was, I really didn't like Big Fish. But I was really able to get into Corpse Bride, both the look of it all and the story. Tim Burton sometimes bugs me when he tries to be an ersatz Edward Gorey, like in The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, but here the Victorian look really fit the story, and the character's visual charms really helped the film (I liked the football-headed boy with the round eyes who gets reuinited with his grandfather). I'd definately recommend this as one of Burton's successes.
I saw Country Joe McDonald perform at Acoustic Music San Diego last night. Good show, overall, and I enjoyed myself. The place was almost full, an older audience that was obviously enjoying the show for the nostalgia factor as much as anything (the person next to me asked why someone my age would be there. I told her I recalled hearing "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" in history class). Country Joe still has a good voice, and played a mix of both new and classic material, peppered with stories about the 60s and about the history of Country Joe and the Fish, their run-ins with the law, and the experience of being paid not to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. His story about trying to get high smoking bananas was particularly amusing. It was a bit odd hearing the "fish salute" in a church. Overall, I had a pretty good time. Really looking forward to seeing Dave Alvin there next month.
I bought a new iPod Photo. I knew it was only a matter of time before I broke down an upgraded, so I figured now was as good a time as any, given the sale price of the old iPod lines. I ran in the Chancellor's Challenge 5K at school on Friday (26:07, a rather disappointing time, but no big shock, as I'm still rather out of shape), and swung by the bookstore afterwards. Which turned out to be a good idea, as quite a few people were taking advantage of the sale prices, and they only had maybe 12 of the 60 gig iPods in stock (they didn't have the video iPods in stock yet, that I could see). The iPod Minis, at $129, were a particularly popular item.

It took me awhile to get the new iPod set up, but it's working fine now. I'm very happy with my decision. The color screen is a nice touch, and the firmware for the iPod photo is definately improved from that on my old iPod. The clickwheel is more responsive, it seems, and Podcasts are in folders, with the date of each episode clearly displayed (I still wish they would display the oldest podcast first, instead of last, but that's a minor issue). The firmware takes up more space, so that the 60 gig iPod only has about 55 gigs of available space (the firmware on my old iPod was well under 2 gigs). I was somewhat upset by this until I realized the new iPod OS works better. But part of the space is no doubt taken up by the photo technology, which is underwhelming. It's not why I bought the iPod, so it's no big deal, but the photos don't look that hot on the tiny screen. But that just makes me happier I didn't pay extra for a video-capable iPod. I don't think a half-inch larger screen will make the experience of watching videos any more appealing than watching pictures on this iPod. And the video viewing software probably eats up a bit more of the available space. So I think I made the smart move, and hopefully won't have to upgrade again for some time.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I find myself out of space on my iPod. I knew this moment would come, of course. Once I had less than a gig of space left, I knew it was only a matter of time. I wasn't too alarmed by the eventuality, but now that I am officially out of room, it's more emotionally draining than I anticipated. The agony, of course, is only intensified by the fact that there are products on the market that would make the problem disappear. iPods with larger capacity, that can store photos, even play videos. And they're smaller than my iPod! I want one so bad, but it just seems so wasteful to spend that kind of money to buy a replacement for something I have only had about ten months, which still works fine (despite being dropped--hard--onto concrete, twice). My mother gave me an out, though, hinting that she thinks it would be neat to have an iPod. I don't really know why she would need one, but she said it would be nice when she goes to visit my sister and her granddaughter. Because, you know, you need something to listen to to help pass the time on that grueling flight from San Diego to San Jose. So now I'm thinking, I buy myself a new iPod, give Mom mine as a Christmas present (load it up with her CDs, and maybe a few new ones), and I've sidestepped the moral issue of whether my behavior in this matter is wasteful. I'm just spending $300 on my mother for Christmas, though somehow I get the new product and she gets a used product with a rapidly deteriorating battery life (so I'm told, I haven't had any battery issues yet).

The waste isn't my main concern. It seems a good use of some of my recent gambling winnings (though my ugly turn at the casinos today makes it harder for me to treat gambling as a magic cash machine), and seeing as I use the iPod a lot and feel that the purchase of my first iPod was a life-changing event, who am I to begrudge a few hundred bucks? I mean, if I don't buy the iPod, I'm not sending the money to starving people in Nairobi. So, my main worry at the moment isn't so much that, but rather a concern that a new iPod will be released in early 2006, that will dramatically improve on the video iPod concept. So I'm tempted to hold out for awhile longer. Further complicating the issue, the UCSD Bookstore has the old iPod Photos on sale. So I can get a 60 gig iPod Photo for the same price as a 30 gig iPod Video. I don't really care about the ability to play videos, but I'd rather have the feature than not have it. But I'm more interested in space. So I think I'd go for the old 60 gig model over the new 30 gig. But for $100 more, I could get the 60 gig model with all the latest features. But $100 is not chump change, exactly. I'm leaning very heavily towards getting the old 60 gig model, but I can't quite make up my mind. I might swing by the bookstore tomorrow, after the Chancellor's Challenge, and see if I can take a look at the old iPod. Unless it's a lot bulkier than my 20 gig model, I can't see paying the extra money for the sleek new model. Of course, that sidesteps the question of whether I need a new iPod at all. But seeing as I'm going to the trouble of typing out this long rambling post just to talk myself into doing what I know I'm eventually going to do, I guess I've made my decision on that count.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

For a second time, a post of mine seems to have disappeared. Last time, it was about the Sea Chantey Fest on the Star of India, this time it was about a possible incidence of bioterrorism in Washington, D.C. What's the connection between these posts? The truth may be just too horrific to ponder.

Or maybe I made both posts at work, and I'm not familiar with Macs, and did something wrong. Or maybe Blogger sucks (thought I haven't really any problems besides two missing posts). Or maybe the computer is trying to serve as a judicious editor for me.

I just stumbled upon a discussion of Zener Cards, which I found rather interesting, for several reasons, but mainly because of the obvious point, which never occured to me (probably because I don't spend a lot of time sitting around pondering Zener Cards), that with a deck of 25 cards, 5 of each figure, card counting was a significant factor in experiments with the cards. Apparently some supposed psychics beat Edward Thorpe to the concept of "beating the dealer" by about 30 years (though Thorpe's uses of the skill were more lucrative).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My last update on my online poker situation was rather bleak. But I'm now happy to report that things have turned around dramatically. Unfortunately, I must be honest and say that luck, not skill, is purely to blame. The sessions I've done the best are the sessions where I've lost my patience and made stupid moves. No bluffs are called, and every crying call seems to pay off. But I'll enjoy the money (a lot of it) nonetheless.

Still, I'm beginning to wonder about my long-term future in poker. I think I've been pretty fair in my self-assessments here. I don't claim to be a poker god. I think I am somewhere between a slightly-below-average player and a slightly-above-average player. In fact, I may just be, god help me, average. But that's okay online, for two reasons. The casino's take is much smaller online (they might rake $0.50/$1.00 out of a pot that a brick and mortar casino would rake $3.00/$4.00), and there are a lot of real shitty players online. But while the house take may be smaller, you still have to be a good enough player to overcome that take. If you're a weak player, a lower rake just means it will take the casino longer to drain your bankroll. And I'm finding fewer and fewer fish at my favorite casinos. And recent reports about stagnation in the online poker industry, which have led investors to hammer away at the stocks of online gaming company, do not bode well for the future of the poker ecosystem.

But perhaps I'm just being negative. I mean, I made a solid four-figure win this week, and I'm complaining about the game? Sure, I got lucky, but getting lucky's the only way to win at this game. Everyone gets lucky sometimes; the trick is not losing too much money between lucky breaks. Anyway, I'm not writing off the game of poker entirely. I'm just saying, in my gut (which Steven Colbert assured me last night is what I should be listening to), I don't see me getting rich off online poker. And I think I'll keep my attention directed more firmly on Vegas.

I tried to see Tim Burton's Corpse Bride this evening, but unfortunately the projectors were broken down at the Pacific Grossmont Center, and all the shows were cancelled. You'd think they'd put up a sign or something, but instead they just closed up the box office and left us to figure it out. I thought maybe they were selling tickets inside, so we went in, and the guy at the customer service desk just acted confused and explained all the shows were cancelled. So that stunk. Maybe Thursday I'll go see it (I have to watch The Graduate tomorrow, for a class).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Charles Rocket, dead at 56. His role in It's Pat: The Movie would be high on my list of best performances in truly crappy films.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Randy Newman. Don't let the name fool you, Newman's music is not for complete idiots, so don't plan on eating potato chips while you read this. There are links to mp3s of quite a few Newman songs, but I don't believe they are current. I could object to things here (I don't consider "It's Money that Matters" shallow, but find it rather heartfelt, in the same vein as "The World Isn't Fair"), but still enjoyed reading it very much, both for his insight and for encouraging me to think over Newman's entire body of work in one sitting.

As an aside, I will mention a pang of guilt I felt in reading the above article. A co-worker was telling some bizarre story about a website that rents children, that apparently has been all over the news lately, yet no one at work had heard of it besides her. Though I'm sure I made some lame crack at the time, it was not until reading the above article, and encountering the lyrics to "Love Story," that I realized I missed an opportunity to make a lame Randy Newman joke in response to this apocryphal news story. It was the same regret I felt recently, after encountering a link on another site to an article I also linked to, regarding David Byrne's musical factory. Nowhere in my link to the news did I make the screamingly obvious joke, which I encountered in the headline, "More songs made by a building, no food." Funny? Not really. That's not the point. Failing to make the joke, however lame the joke is, makes one even lamer. So let me just say, that unless Stockholm has a greater audience for conceptual art installations than this country, around this factory you won't find long lines, but rather (Nothing But) flowers. A big old factory like that sounds plenty spooky, though--I'd hate to be in there with a psycho killer, qu'est-ce que c'est? But really, why waste time on such trivial projects when we're living life during wartime? I wonder if David Byrne will appear in the exhibit naked? And so on.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

An article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the Poker Players' Alliance. Somewhat more positive than an article I linked to earlier, and somewhat more vague in what exactly they hope to accomplish, or at least how they hope to do so. In any event, I wish them luck.
The Sunday New York Times has a report on the Judith Miller case. Rather odd story. Very long, yet I didn't learn much. Probably because, according to the article, "In two interviews, Ms. Miller generally would not discuss her interactions with editors, elaborate on the written account of her grand jury testimony or allow reporters to review her notes." This is how cooperative she was in an interview with her own paper. One gets the impression Miller is a bit of a loose cannon, whose decision not to testify might have been motivated as much by an unwillingness to be held accountable for her reporting as any higher journalistic principles (though the fact that Miller didn't publish what she was told undermines this point--though the Times piece suggests, in conflicting reports, that the failure to print the information was not for lack of trying). So all we get is the back-and-forth between her lawyer and Lewis Libby, and it still doesn't make a lot of sense why she was in jail. She still claims she just didn't believe Libby's waiver of confidentiality was freely offered, but then, after hearing the tone of his voice, was suddenly convinced he was eager to talk (even though he still expressed confidence she would exonerate him, when she actually did the opposite). It sounds more likely she became more eager to cut a deal with the special prosecutor when it was suggested he might empanel a new grand jury and keep Miller in jail for 18 more months (seems unlikely a judge would go along with this).

In any event, the article doesn't add too much to what was already known, though it is probably worth reading for discussion of the difficulties for the Times in covering the case while defending Miller's pledge of privacy. And for those wondering where the grand jury is heading, from what one can gather from the description of grand jury testimony in this piece, it seems purjury charges against Libby might be in the cards.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Getting caught up on MP3 blogs, I came across a good notice for a band called Castanets on Salon's music blog. I did enjoy the clip, and was intrigued when I saw a quote from an interview with Castanets on another site, mentioning a move from San Diego. I went to the interview, and was surprised to read in the introduction, "Ray Raposa's songs are like midnight gunfights between the superegos of Hunter S. Thompson and Johnny Cash." Surprised because Ray Raposa used to work for me over at the Cove. Nice fellow. Glad he's doing so well. I'll be downloading the new record from eMusic in the near future.
In hearing reports about Katie Holmes pregnancy, I learned of the existence of a project she had to drop due to the pregnancy, a biopic of Spade Cooley. His life story does seem well-suited to the movies, though I wonder about Dennis Quaid trying to direct.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

An interview with Kurt Vonnegut. He's quite the cheery fellow. I was unaware his daughter was briefly married to Geraldo Rivera.
David Byrne turns factory into instrument. A shame I won't be in Stockholm anytime soon.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

As I may have mentioned here before, I've been looking forward to seeing Lyle Lovett in L.A. for some months now, and the date is fast approaching. It will be my second time seeing Lovett perform, and my first Lovett concert in the "Songwriters' Tour" format, with Joe Ely, Guy Clark, and John Hiatt also performing (I saw him with his large band, which was great, but a jazzier experience, while this will no doubt be a more countrified evening). A trip to L.A. for the concert also offers an opportunity to see the Sergio Leone exhibit at the Autry National Center. A nice little mini-vacation (and not even gambling-related!).

Anyway, I got an e-mail from an online friend, whom I've met in real life a few times at Randy Newman-related activities, offering me two tickets to the Lovett concert if I knew anyone who wanted to go. Now, I had thought about bringing my mom to the concert, because I took her to see Lyle Lovett with me as a Mother's Day gift, and she was disappointed, because he kept trying to sound like Harry Connick, Jr. (I understood her point, but enjoyed his jazzy and blusey numbers as much as his country songs) So I thought she'd enjoy a more acoustic, country show. But as I was buying a series subscription to make sure I got a seat for the Randy Newman concert, there wasn't a practical way to get a ticket seated with me for her as well, so I dropped the idea. But now, due to Ralph's generosity, my mom can go to the show (though she wasn't too thrilled when she found out, as a condition of attending the concert, she had to return to the Autry museum), I get a much better seat for the show, and I can pass my ticket on to another member of the online Randy Newman community to enjoy. Should be a fun night.

Several articles on the front page of today's Union-Tribune arts section cover the debut of Lyric Opera San Diego in their new home, a converted movie theater in North Park. I went ahead and bought a ticket to see The Mikado on my birthday. I'm slightly miffed they apparently lost or ignored my request to be added to their mailing list, as I might have gotten a better seat (and their online ticketing system is error-prone, though I do like the ability to pick one's seat from a seating chart showing what exact seats are available). But I imagine with their big move, these things happen. Anyway, should be a fun show, only my second time seeing Gilbert and Sullivan performed (and my first time seeing anything by Lyric Opera San Diego, as I never made it to their old digs in Balboa Park).

Friday, October 07, 2005

I've had a few days to familiarize myself with We Love Katamari, and just taken on it's own merits, it's a fantastic game. In comparison with the original Katamari Damacy, it falls somewhat short, just because it fails to surpass the original. The original is probably the best video game on the market today, and given it's replay value, a sequel was perhaps not really needed. But we got one, and we might as well enjoy it.

The fundamental game play is unchanged. Controlling the katamari, a ball, you roll up anything you can, starting with small things, then bigger things as you get bigger. So at first you're picking up postage stamps and erasers, and later you're picking up trees and bicycles and people. The controls are very simple, utilizing the two analog sticks like tank controllers. Your mission is to get your katamari as large as possible, as fast as possible. One change from the original is that, on the basic levels, you first try to get as large as possible within the time limit, and then on your second time you just try to get to a certain size as quickly as possible. After meeting both goals, on future tries you can choose either goal. Having two (similar) goals to choose from, and the fact that your starting point on each level changes each time (from a few set start points) increases the replay value.

The most obvious changes from the original game involve some of the less traditional levels introduced in this sequel. Like the original, there are several levels that involve rolling up as many of a particular type of item (i.e., flowers) as possible. I never enjoyed these as much as the basic levels in the original, and feel the same here. They're fun enough, but there are better levels (though the level where you are at a school, and have to roll up 100 children, is fun, though disturbing, if you start to think about it). So far, I haven't encountered a level where you have to roll up exactly one of an item (i.e., roll up one cow), and you have to avoid rolling up small cows until you can roll up a big cow (I hated those in the original game). Instead, We Love Katamari has many levels not really comparable to the original. On one level, instead of a katamari, you're pushing a sumo wrestler. You must get him enough food, so that he gets big enough to knock another sumo wrestler out of the ring (you get added honor if you can win the match by roll-up, rather than simply knocking the other sumo down). This one is a lot of fun, with the oval shape of the sumo wrestler changing the feel of the game, and creating new challenges. One game involves making a snowman, while another involves a race, where your katamari is constantly moving, and all you can do is direct it. Some, like the snowman level, fall flat, but other levels, like the racing level, are pretty fun. My first reaction on encountering some of the more bizarre levels (i.e., the sumo level) was that the game designers were just adding cheap gimmicks to a game that didn't need any improvement, but after giving these levels a chance, I have to say I approve.

So just based on gameplay, the sequal is pretty darn good. Unfortunately, when it comes to the more general tone and feel of the game, they just can't quite top the original. It feels like, with Katamari Damacy, there was no expectation of the game being successful, and so the makers figured they could just do whatever they wanted. Yet with We Love Katamari, you can feel the desparation to achieve the success of the original, and the charm of the game suffers for it. It was a clever idea to make the original game's success part of the storyline. And some of the stories the King tells during load times are cute (of course, the original didn't have any loading time in the middle of a level). But the cut scenes telling the story of the King of All Cosmos' childhood can't quite match the oddity of the astronaut's family story in the original. The music also is a tad disappointing. The opening theme is great, and most of the songs are good, but just not as crazy as the original's. The J-pop tune is quite enjoyable, but just feels a little too slick for this game.

But whatever I say, it doesn't change the fact that We Love Katamari is, when you get right down to it, a great game. Katamari Damacy is a great game, too, and probably a better game (and cheaper to boot). That said, I've found We Love Katamari as addictive as the original.

Someone has been fraudulently using my credit card. Fortunately, the bank was on the ball and only two charges of $1 each went through (presumably to verify the account info), and three larger charges in the $700-$800 range were blocked. Fortunately, I don't use the account in question, so getting a new account number is not a major inconvenience, and I'm not responsible for the charges. I do wonder how they got my account number, but assuming I don't have problems with the credit card company down the road, I don't seem any worse off for being the victim of this crime. I'll have to pick up a copy of my credit report in a month or so and see how things look, but I can do that for free.
I signed up today at, a service which monitors what music you listen to, and keeps a log of all the music you play on your computer (or, using a program called audioPod goes iScrobbler, on your iPod), for all the world to see. It also enables you to listen on internet radio stations programmed based on the music people like yourself enjoy. It's free (for $3/mo., you can get a more personalized radio experience), and it nicely humors my more compulsive tendencies (surely monitoring subtle shifts in my music habit will complement my recently began project of ranking every episode of every television show I have on DVD...which I am considering expanding to every scripted--i.e., The Daily Show is exempt--television show I watch).

Anyway, what this means for the dedicated readership of this blog--both of you--is that you can now see my music profile, and learn what I was listening to, and when (though I can't figure out how to set my local time zone, so you might think I've started getting up at six in the morning). I've added a link to the profile near the top of the page. At the moment, Randy Newman, the Love Hall Tryst, and Pete Seeger are in the top three most-played artists, but just between us, I think Pete Seeger is on his way out. But only time will tell. Send in your long-distance dedications for Seeger now! (Which reminds me, we got our tickets for Arlo Guthrie in the mail a few weeks ago, and got box seats, which for two tall people is good news. Should be a fun show)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sven's Revenge. I think I found this so funny because it fits the theme of the Perry Bible Fellowship comic, and yet the premise would almost not be out of place in a Ziggy strip. That poor Ziggy just can't win, you know?
The trailer for The Shining if it were released today (Quicktime file). Having just seen The Shining for the first time last weekend, I found this quite amusing.
I got an email the other day, about planning for my ten-year reunion. Argh. I doubt I will be going.
A Poker Players Alliance to lobby on behalf of poker players, online and off. Good idea, though the astroturf nature of the group (the seed money was provided by online poker rooms) may prove a hindrance. In any event, I hope this is the start of a trend. I am reluctant to think that the inexorable march of history will easily be changed, but I do think the time is ripe to break from the traditional boom/bust model, where gambling expands dramatically, and is swiftly reigned in by a moralistic backlash. It is time the government approached gambling regulation as predominately a consumer protection matter. Not that the government should not regulating gaming to keep the social costs contained, but players should receive a fair deal from a gaming establishment chosen in a competitive marketplace, just like any other market in this country. Lobbyists working for gamblers (even if pushing a fairly narrow agenda) should help advance this mindset. Though I will just say, while I do think this is a good time to strike, I'm not particularly optimistic. Sure, poker's popular, but how has pot's popularity affected the war on drugs? Of course, unlike marijuana, gambling has a bevy of legal companies in this country (MGM/Mirage, Harrah's, et. al.) eager to expand into the online market, and numerous tribal casinos, which should welcome federal regulation, sovereignty be damned, because one cheating scandal at a podunk Indian casino could kill their business). Anyway, only time will tell.

This seems a reasonable time to update you, dear reader, on my own online poker exploits. This was a bad week. Real bad. I do believe I cried at one point. Bad. I was in a bit of a funk earlier this week, and probably should have known I was not in a good mindset to play poker with discipline and patience. But instead I gave back what it took me a long time to win. Plus a few bucks. It's not a catastrophic loss that will force me to swear off gambling forever, but it's still frustrating that a few hours online can wipe out the benefits of a lot of hard work. I'll be taking a break for a few days, and sometime next week I'll start building back up my bankroll. And hopefully I'll be a little wiser, having learned not to chase losses, and not to play when depressed (though I already knew that, and fat lot of good it did).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Monday, October 03, 2005

Consumer alert: Target has a number of TV-on-DVD boxed sets on sale for $18.88, a remarkable value. I bought the second season of Gilmore Girls, and the second season of Everybody Loves Raymond (to give as a gift). I also picked up the first season of Smallville, after noticing a mail-in rebate which brought the price down to $8.88. The rebate offer (available in a PDF file from Amazon) is for between $10-$50 depending on the number of DVDs you buy (basically, you get $10 off every DVD you buy after the first one), and covers quite a few TV-on-DVD boxed sets. I'm going to buy Mission Hill on DVD before I send in the rebate, and I'm tempted to pick up season three of Gilmore Girls on DVD, too, though I'll probably just wait and see if season three goes on sale some day.

While at Target, I also picked up We Love Katamari. The clerk who assisted me was very enthusiastic in his praise of the game, saying it's better than the original (hard to imagine how that's possible). My review will be forthcoming.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

"Don't be shy. Put your nose right up to the bunghole:" Some overlooked early works of famous authors, including Martin Amis' Invasion of the Space Invaders: An Addict's Guide to Battle Tactics, Big Scores and the Best Machines. Paul Collins discusses the article on NPR.
If you haven't been reading the comic strip Unshelved, you should be. They recently started running special Sunday comics, in color, based on particular books. I enjoyed this week's comic, and one a few weeks ago struck close to home.
Van Morrison's contractual obligation album is available on the web. Emusic has these cuts, as well, but I couldn't see wasting 20 or so downloads purchasing songs that are intentionally awful. But as a free internet download, some of them are pretty funny ("Ringworm," for instance).