Thursday, December 24, 2009

a hazy shade of winter wonderland

meditated for 15 minutes, involuntarily opening my eyes. Not today, the other evening.

if a task I need to do occurs to me, I need to write it down or else it will haunt me (through remembering it) later.

wow I am really bad with updates, for which I apologize. I'm just.. too boring and busy to talk about anything. I saw Fantastic Mr Fox, that was primo. I don't have any stories to share, other than I recently realized that I am horribly, disfiguratively broke. Work is totally kicking my ass. So yeah, job and money stress await me in 2010. Been online dating, which I guess means I'm out there and meeting people, sometimes face to face! I bought Agricola and have yet to play it, although Settlers has been getting some action.

I am taking today off, so I'm typing in my pajamas, a bit of free time before I have to get ready and get out there. The weather is a cool -6C, but it'll get up to zero later. Christmas and Boxing day are supposed to be 4 and 3 degrees, which is rather nutty.

Oh yes, some friends and I worked on a clinical survey website, which you're welcome to try. The questions are there but the layout isn't 100% finished so don't bother pointing out if the images don't line up in your browser or some such; we're working on it. The link: Am I Gay?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

first home purchase achieved

Not my furniture
Ok, yup, I bought a place. It still hasn't quite sunk in yet. I mean, I believe it to be true and am slowly (slowly) warming up to the idea but until I actually move in it's still a rather unreal thing for me. Certainly, it is nice to not have to flip through ugly, ugly housing listings. Now, paperwork and all the tedium that it brings are my daily plate. Oh, and financial strains, indeed and oh yes.

Speaking of strains, my freakin' harddrive died! And it would seem I lost everything -- old photos (more recent ones are on flickr and at work), shows, movies.. and all my saved games! My personal notes on stuff. Gone. Well, not GONE gone.. presumably they're in stasis, comatose on a few drive platters, locked by a $1K key i.e. a data retrieval service. It's a frakking nightmare I tells ya! Although to be truthful I am getting more reading done at home; nearly halfway through The Crossing.

Saw a couple movies recently, A Serious Man, the new Coen brothers film, and The Road. The first quietly delighted me, the second made my blood boil; it seemed like a flagrant slap to those that had read the book. Looking back I suppose it's made the story more palatable to those who've not read it, but I still think it unnecessary and an insult to viewers. But ah well.

Winter is here with a frosty backfist to the cheeks. Bicycling has become officially a painful thing to do, so I've been taking the streetcar for the past couple of days. Gives me a chance to catch up on "The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe" podcast. HOLY COW it's -9 outside? That's Mother Nature for ya: turn around and she's kicking you in the ballsack.

Friday, November 20, 2009

learning and browsing

Well it's a fine how-do-you-do; my other memory stick died! For those keeping track, that's the second of two 1GB OCZ sticks dying. At least, I think it's the memory that's gone bad -- I suppose it's entirely possible that the motherboard sockets are gone, which would be quite the pain. On top of the cost of replacing the motherboard, there's the installation process. So yeah, I'm really hoping it's the sticks themselves that have gone. Strange, it's so quiet in my apartment when the computer is off. Is this how it must've been, back in the 19, uh, 1910s? I remember as a kid disappointed when in a house that didn't have a computer or TV.

The reason for rebooting my computer, for indeed it was otherwise working fine before I turned it off, was that I'd been fiddling with the webserver and needed to update my HOSTS file. Yes, fiddling with the webserver because I'm getting familiar with MVC and in particular, Symfony, a PHP MVC framework. Inspired, you might say, as I've been learning about MVC at work. That and jQuery, a nifty JavaScript library. Oh I am learning a lot, reminding me of my university days when faced with reading textbooks and scanning articles; mindnumbing stuff. Maybe my brain just gets full? Whatever it is, I get tired at work, head-droopingly tired. Thankfully I have started doing some real, productive work which keeps me awake through stress i.e. concern that I didn't actually learn anything and just slept a lot.

Looking at real estate listings is a lot like on-line dating -- you flip through descriptions and pictures, musing what'd be like to live there/date them. After you've seen a few places (met a few faces), you get an idea of what to expect based on the profiles. And so you act less often, growing tired and not feeling the need to see what they would really be like. Oh sure, you believe that there's one out there for you, and so you keep looking but day after day of mediocre or unsuitable (or simply totally out of my league) matches does drain one's will, leaving one to compare them with the ones that got away.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

milestone at work, playing Dragon Age

The product I'd been working on has finally been released. And yet, after all that toil and trouble, I do not feel much better than before. Perhaps I'd grown used to the stress of a deadline looming over me. Indeed, I seem to recall saying something to that effect before but cannot be bothered to look that up now. Having it out there in a mostly usable form is a relief, certainly.

As a sort of reward for myself I purchased, and have since played, Dragon Age, the new BioWare RPG. Ah, that age old system of pausing battles, telling all your little dudes what spells to cast or action to take, unpausing to let them do it, and then pausing again. Artificial turn-based combat: delicious. Reminds me of my experiences with Neverwinter Nights and Baldur's Gate, which is a good thing.

No news on the housing front. I'm averaging about 1 acceptable property a month, so it's slow going. I'm in no particular hurry and do my best not to get worked up about it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

films old and new

Work.. it consumes us, surrounds-- no, that's not how I meant to start. I have been pouring myself into work, a mould I am familiar with: staying late, stressing about deadlines, focused in my coding and procrastination. So many lines have passed through my mind and fingers, but to what end they will achieve is yet to be seen. I am not (yet) proud. I am a little worn.

Movies! Lessee...
  1. Where The Wild Things Are (2009). I liked it. Not for kids, I'd say, though sure they'll enjoy parts. The look of the film is wonderful; I couldn't imagine it done better.
  2. Paranormal Activity (2009). Awesome. Enjoyable. Made me laugh at how good it was. Even now I smile thinking of how masterfully they've managed to tap into fear, to draw it out and run with it. Dude, just go see it.
  3. Some Like It Hot (1959). Pretty funny! Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon. I did find that I get uncomfortable watching beautiful women climbing over each other. How very odd.
  4. Bullitt (1968). An incredible, jaw-dropping car chase surrounded by a flimsy plot. The car chase could be the best I've seen.
  5. Adventureland (2009). Entertaining, with plenty of familiar, talented faces. I do find Jesse Eisenberg to be a little too similar to Michael Cera in, well, just about every way except hair. Martin Starr is filling out the "dishevelled-sarcastic-nerd" role quite nicely.
  6. The Queen (2006). A film I'd been meaning to see for a while and finally getting around to. I avoided the hoopla that went on when Princess Di was killed so I learned quite a bit from this film, on top of the insights into the private life of British royalty. I may fail to make it sound interesting but I was surprised to find myself quite liking it.
  7. AGO staircase
  8. Zombieland (2009). Fun. Some gore. Again with the Michael Cera/Jesse Eisenberg thing. Woody Harrelson seems to have been created for his role.
  9. The Graduate (1967). I liked the film, but I'm not sure I understand its impact on American film. Perhaps a second viewing is called for. I did find Ebert's two very different reviews (1, 2) to be quite insightful into what I might be missing. It is pleasant to hear so much Simon and Garfunkel.

What else.. oh, some dude broke into my neighbour's car. I'd always thought of our back alley to be quite safe from such acts. I surely hope this is not a sign, that it's merely a blip to be soon forgotten.

And... I've been feeling low, but that's nothing new, ha. Oh that's right; I had a coldsore and those damnable things always bring me down. Such an ego you have, Mr. Wolf. OH YEAH and I went to the AGO. On a Saturday, no less. But I went in the morning, before the crowds had time to accumulate and choke up the floors and doorways. I quite enjoyed it, the new architecture quite fine to behold, quite fine.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Nuit Blanche, odd hours, lots of movies

This year's Nuit Blanche was marred by large crowds and mundane exhibits. Is it my old man syndrome speaking thus? It's how I feel and I am certain that there are some who feel the same as I do. Certainly the size of the throngs cannot be disputed; I believe this year attracted the largest numbers yet. It wasn't all bad, I guess, but my dislike of line-ups was taken to its limit Saturday night.

Sunday I stayed in, having gone to bed near 6 AM and getting up around 4 PM, groggy with a broken Circadian rhythm. I watched the first season of Party Down, an excellent new comedy. The next following I woke up feeling awful and was plagued with a malaise I had not felt in ages: a decidedly colitis-like sensation, only without the sharp abdominal pain. I plan to retire by 11 so that my body can get some extra rest.

I guess I've watched a few other films since I last wrote, including:
  1. Wet Hot American Summer (2001). It has quite the who's-who cast in comedy, and the movie is very funny though its wackiness may put-off some. My personal favourite scenes: when Garofalo's character makes Paul Rudd clean up his mess, the trip to town, anything with the crazed cook, the "new way" training.
  2. Vertigo (1958), which you may be surprised to know I've never seen. But golly what a movie! It gives me shudders. The intro sequence sends chills up my back. "... he wanted to penetrate to the heart of obsession." I don't want to spoil a drop of this delicious, intoxicating brew should you have the pleasure of seeing it for the first time in front of you. Suffice to say, I envy you.
  3. North by Northwest (1959), another classic Hitchcock film. My enjoyment of this film differs from Vertigo; I found the former haunting while this latter one was simply entertaining. I really only found the soundtrack to be memorable.
  4. The Manchurian Candidate (1962). Intense from start to end. Hasn't aged a bit. I heard the remake was not as good but I will still seek it out for comparison's sake.
  5. Silent Running (1972). I saw this one after it was mentioned to be a source of inspiration for Moon. Slow, with ups and downs but I liked the ending so overall I enjoyed it.
  6. Moon (2009). "'Moon' is a superior example of that threatened genre, hard science-fiction, which is often about the interface between humans and alien intelligence of one kind of or other, including digital. John W. Campbell Jr., the godfather of this genre, would have approved. The movie is really all about ideas. It only seems to be about emotions. How real are our emotions, anyway? How real are we? Someday I will die. This laptop I'm using is patient and can wait." -- Roger Ebert. Me, I loved it.
  7. The Iron Giant (1999). I can't remember why I wanted to see this film. I mean, I recall wanting to see this film back when it came out. I enjoyed the visuals and the art-style. It's a good kids movie, don't get me wrong. I guess I just wanted to satisfy a very old itch.
  8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). Another film I'd meant to see in the theater but was too forgetful to get around to doing. Too forgetful, or maybe just too hermit-like. I liked it a lot! It's a shame it didn't fare better. A fun, quirky film.
  9. The Hangover (2009). Yeah it was funny. I laughed. The best of this movie? Discovering Zach Galifianakis: that dude is hilarious.
  10. All Quiet on the Western Front (1979). I watched this by accident, meaning to see the original 1930 version. This remake was fairly ho-hum.
  11. Role Models (2008). Funny with a flash of heart, as these Rudd/Apatow films are.
  12. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008). Also funny, but I've never found Jason Segel to be all that amusing.

I actually saw those last two some time ago but I neglected to mention it at the time.

I said I would go to bed soon but I lied, it would seem. Typing these things up takes time! Well folks, I guess that's it for now. I had also wanted to talk about the new Curb and The Office and that new Jason Schwartzman show, but I tire of my voice. Later!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

first real estate bid

Stressed, I'm seriously stressed. I mean, it's just money, right? Who knows what the morrow may bring? I am to be dropping a deposit on a place (766 King Street West) tomorrow evening. My agent gave me the impression that my bid will be low, but I based the amount on comfort level and conservative estimates of what I can really afford (as well, to a lesser extent, what the mortgage broker said). So I guess there's not that much to be worried about. But shifting large amounts of money around does have a kind of toll on me. Not having had dinner is of little help.

Positives of the place? Close to work. Great kitchen, lots of light (skylight, south-facing), high ceiling, balcony with a BBQ. Negatives: No parking spot, no indoor bicycle rack. No amenities. A separate entrance would've been nice. I am not convinced that I want to live close to my work. Sure, it's convenient being able to walk to the office, but there's something to be said about working in one neighbourhood and living in another, to feel like one is "at work" or "at home".

Ok, well, we'll see. It's not likely that I'll win with my bid anyway. I guess it's back to gathering rosebuds while we may.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back from visiting cousins in New York City

Wall Street
I didn't bring my hat, which perhaps is just as well: the weather in New York was cloudy and wet. Drinking at night, sleeping in the morning, walking around the city during the day, resting in front of the TV and getting ready for the next night. Throughout it all I got to know my cousins a lot better, we not having much contact for the past, oh, 17 years? That's really the thing I take away from this trip.

Oh, sure, I took some pictures. There are a bunch of that High Line walkway, a section of raised train tracks converted into a park around a mile and a half long. It reminded me of that Ray Bradbury story, the one where the man travels back in time to shoot dinosaurs and accidentally steps on a butterfly, changing the course of history. Anyway, it was nice to see the park before it is inevitably ruined for everyone.

I have, somewhat against my will or inclination, been playing Civ3 again.

I had decided to not drink for the rest of September, but I have already rashly broken this promise to myself once and will probably do so again this Saturday.
High Line theater

The Polish Festival was this weekend! I went alone, forgetting to ask anyone if they wanted to pig-out with me. So I ate a lot of street food alone; ribs, pierogies, corn-on-the-cob, candy apples, smoothies, churros. And on Sunday I had my first anchovy pizza. Salty, oily, salty; I could barely finish a slice. I did however find myself craving it later that day, so maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Last thing to mention: I saw Youth in Revolt at the Winter Garden theatre, a somewhat magical place to sit. The film was excellent, likely to straddle that line of indie-golden-child and mainstream success.

This blog/webjo entry brought to you by an unlikely force.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Windsor

I was in Windsor, of all places. A wretched hive of vice and ramshackle buildings: spotless white casinos next to tenement complexes and boarded-up houses. I went to visit a friend, an old acquaintance from my Canadian Space Agency days. He has not changed in the least. We talked of our days at the CSA, of the work, of our bosses, of the astronauts. I enjoyed meeting the other Asians in Windsor; apart from some tourists, I think I may have been the oldest Korean there, which was very novel. However I'm not inclined to go again anytime soon. And next time I shall stay at a hotel!

A short work week, this one; I will be leaving for New York on Thursday to visit family. After this, I shall rest my liver I do so swear it. I do somewhat lament my accidentally booking for the 9/11 weekend, oh vey. I rather forgot that the date means something down there. On September 9th, 2001 I was in the living room watching TV and my mom kept saying, "Oh my God."

Spent a frantic hour this evening searching for my passport, which apparently expires February 23rd, 2014 -- my fears of it expiring completely unfounded. I wonder what's the current NYC fashion?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

digesting that cyclist killed by a panicked lawyer

So, like, what's the word, boyos? Tired of writing, that's the problem. No, gosh, what an awful start. I was thinking of putting down some thoughts on the recent Michael Bryant cycling incident, now that some more details have been leaked. The cyclist had left his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend's apartment less than an hour earlier, with police called in to handle the domestic disturbance. He was also possibly drunk, and may still have been drunk and upset at the time of the incident. Bryant or his wife, the passenger, made a 911 call during the incident. The cyclist likely died of injuries received while hanging on to the side of the car, although it's possible that he was also run over at some point.

What I wanted to say is that the situation is not that black and white. People panic in high stress situations, especially if they're not used to it. Perhaps Bryant's flight instinct kicked in, wanting to protect his wife from a belligerent stranger. Maybe the cyclist grabbed the steering wheel and caused the car to drive on the sidewalk or into oncoming traffic. I still vividly recall the two times I was in the car when my mom got into accidents (thankfully no-one was hurt) and how she became this strange zombie person, not really responding to anything I or anyone else said. I do agree that Bryant reacted in the wrong way; by using his car to blindly escape the situation he endangered everyone. It is easy to forget how thin the line is when it comes to the safety of following the accepted rules of the road.

I've spent an undue amount of time watching The Simpsons episodes; I found a foreign website that streams them. It asks for registration but I figured out a pretty simple workaround to it -- installing AdBlock Plus. E-mail if you'd like to join me in catching up on 20+ seasons of good times, in easily digestable 22 minute chunks.

What else... work! Right. Uhm, well, it's going. Busy, very busy. Meetings everyday. Still doing old my job, trying to find time to learn new stuff. Frequently stressed at how slow I'm learning. At least it seems slow to me. Woe! Oh, and a raise is coming.. but not for a while. WOE.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

hot summer of movies

Dear dear dear.. I've spent many an evening watching movies I've meant to see. Here's the latest batch that I've burned through:
  1. Alexander Nevsky. The haircut that endures time and space. An operatic track is used in The Simpsons episode G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)
  2. First Blood. Yup, that one, drawling Stallone and all. Why are small towns given such a bad rap?
  3. They Live. I think I got this one so that I could experience the source material for Duke Nukem. The bubblegum line was the best part.
  4. Gran Torino. I very much enjoyed Eastwood's laying down of slurs.
  5. The Hurt Locker. Excellent, one of the best of 2009. The ending's a bit long/forced, but doesn't detract much from the rest of the film.
  6. The Outsiders. I would've loved this as a teenager. I'd be a greaser, definitely.
  7. Up. Wonderful prelude. My eyes watered.
  8. Who Killed The Electric Car? I'd avoided this one but it's quite informative, if a little biased/heavy-handed by the end. Interesting to think that we could be living in an electric-car (not hybrid, mind you) world.
  9. Arahan. A Korean martial arts comedy. Loses its focus at times. Promising but doesn't deliver.
  10. The Shootist. John Wayne knows how to go out in style.
  11. The Endless Summer. Inspires dreams of surfing.
  12. There Will Be Blood. Good movie, but hard to watch. Now I know where that milkshake meme comes from.
  13. A Frozen Flower. What a brutal history Korea has. The film more or less lost me by the end, but the final song did ease my dissatisfaction.
  14. The Chaser. Murder mystery, without the mystery. Lots of suspense, a little gore.
  15. Entre Les Murs. I thought it was good, but not Palme d'Or good. I will note that my enjoyment was much hampered by a very poor translation -- it seemed to have been translated into Spanish and then into English.
  16. The Apartment. Loved it, absolutely loved it. Why can't dialogue always be this good?
  17. District 9. Impressive. I never bought the idea of an alien slum on earth but my doubts were soon forgotten. Sci-fi needs more of these.
  18. kuro-obi. Entertaining martial arts film with plenty of authetic karate.
  19. The Night of the Hunter. Robert Mitchum at his most frightful. This would've given me nightmares as a child.

Whew! So yeah, a bunch of movies watched, still lots to go. Summer, it would seem, has finally reared its hot and stinky head.

Monday, August 03, 2009

minor career deviation

A busy week it was. Firstly, big news from work -- they're outsourcing my job! But.... they are also "promoting" me into development. The quotes are there because no-one's mentioned anything regarding a pay raise. I might be getting one, I might not. A lot more work, a lot more responsibility. However it is yet to be seen. Moving from customer support to development is a major transition and I'm not sure I quite know how I feel about it. On the one hand I'll get a chance to fix all those bugs and issues I'm always having to log. On the other: meetings, schedules, and projects, oh my! Also, my days of getting into work at 10 are pretty much over.

Tuesday was karate, not much to say there. Wednesday I saw Up and really enjoyed it. I've only seen a handful of Pixar films and they have all been rather excellent and Up continues that trend. I found it spoke especially to me, an old man in my own mind.

Thursday was a social with some of the Session 1 Ooch counsellors, followed by drinks with old co-workers and friends until late. Friday I took it easy so that I could get some chores and laundry done, Saturday was a dental appointment, more karate, drinks at Hemingway's, and more drinks at Charlotte Room, followed up with Swatow.

Oh, I have been keeping an eye on condos/lofts/townhouses but with this rather thin market the pickings are rather meagre and ofttimes unattractive. I am patient and believe that a match will come along. It's a strange business, this waiting game. I have certainly gotten a much better idea of what's moving out there.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back from Session One, Week B

Camp went well, I think. I am hesitant to say that I had an awesome time because I'm still digesting the experience, as it were, having returned Friday evening. Also, the kids' enthusiasm dwindled as the days passed, homesickness becoming an ever constant knell. Not sure how typical that is, or whether I played a positive or negative role there. I am glad to have done it, sure, and I feel much more ready for next time. I mean, I learned so much about the experience that I could do it again, sure. Only, not so soon -- it was draining, requiring one to be "on" from 7 AM to 10 PM every day. I will in any case definitely bring better sleeping supplies next time (ie. a pillow and a blanket).

Hopefully I'll see a property or two tomorrow. The real estate market in Toronto, so it seems to me, right now is very competitive -- not a lot of properties and the good ones get snatched up within a few days. Not an ideal situation for someone like myself, who is slow to move and steps cautiously. In any case, I do not see myself buying a place anytime soon. But who knows?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

house hunting begins, readying for camp

I got myself a realtor, yup. Looking at some properties, lofts and townhouses (Copy and paste the links and add a zero, "0", to make it work. They expire at the end of this week). I guess there's a medley of good and bad stuff out there, hope to get a closer glimpse of some this week before going to camp. I got pre-approved for a, in my opinion, redonkulous amount of money, which does broaden my options somewhat. Not that I'll use the full pre-approval amount, it being stretched to the absolute limit of what I can afford. Although already I find myself thinking about money, something I've wanted to avoid doing ever since finishing university, a time where I was constantly worried about having enough. It's just a big pain! And just the THOUGHT of having a mortgage has such an effect on me, yeesh. Tipping less, buying less, scrutinizing bills. Make it stop!

I was at camp this weekend, getting ready for my time there next week. I hear all these stories of how amazing the experience is but I'm so worried about keeping my end up and being prepared as a counsellor. The facility they have is excellent, it's like a resort for children. I have to admit, it does feel rather good to be a part of it, almost as if I wasn't really, like it still hasn't sunk in. I'm trying not to get excited but do hope the weather stays good. Oh right, and I need to find/make an alien costume. Hmmmmm....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Grandmother passed away

I don't have much to say about my grandmother. My memories are fairly fragmented, can't really picture her that well. I know that she used to carry me around a lot, wrapped tightly to her back. I remember her curly hair and her fondness for sweets. She never really had a good grip of English and I can't recall ever having a real conversation with her. We buried her Saturday morning, a grey overcast day with a light rain. I hadn't expected to cry but I did, when I heard my aunt praying for her through her sobs. It was nice to see all the family together, a rare occasion by any measure.

I went and bought that Plants Vs Zombies game and it was a fun 10 hours or so. I enjoyed the demo and the full game did not disappoint. I guess it falls into that tower-defence genre of games, where you place units to prevent the enemy from reaching its goal. I pretty much like every aspect of the game except the clicking part --- there's so much of it! What is up with casual games that require such intense mouse-work? I guess the good thing about that is that it prevented me from playing for hours on end (though I wanted to) because of all the clicking. Actually, that's not entirely true (the preventing part, as well as the frequency of clicking), but it does get tiresome.

I was thinking, you know, the internet has really opened up to allowing strangers to write their thoughts alongside the author's. And this, for the most part, sucks. Not only because strangers who suddenly find themselves invisible become assholes but also because everyone wants to correct people. Or provide an opinion. Or agree. What is this compulsion to want to add to the discussion or give kudos? Is this some kind of deep instinct that helps verify that we are alive, or maybe it satisfies some social trigger when faced with another person's thoughts? I suspect that this same behavior is also tied to the sharing of links and photos, a desire to spread an experience to others. An evolutionary trait we have to share things we feel are worth remembering or seeing, like how primitive people would recognize foods that would make you get sick. Is this built-in, or have we learned it?

Not that I'm asking people to comment less, if that were even possible.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

summer and the days go by

Summer's here, somewhere. I actually haven't much to mention. Time, it goes by and there it goes. Went to a couple shows (saw The Balconies, The Reason, Sunrisers), played some go, participated in the Ride for Heart, tried a friend's recumbent bicycle.

Oh, the Ride for Heart was good. My friend and I raced for much of it, finishing the 50 km in just a bit over 2 hours, with a short break between and some easy riding in the first 12 km. I enjoy going fast and blowing by other cyclists, and this is really the only time/place I can do so without feeling guilty about being a hothead. See ya later, sluggards! We went for pho afterwards, a filling meal on Spadina.

I've also played a couple hours of Rock Band, that pleasure of getting to know a song without needing to learn guitar. Foo Fighter's Everlong (love that video!) and Jimmy Eat World's The Middle being, I think, my favourites to play.

Ok, I'll try to do some work now. Catch you peeps later!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

working on the bike, thinking about bicycling

Blargh, i guess the reach of my laziness know no bounds. Since my last post I attended Toronto The Good and finished my bicycle maintenance course. Am reading up on condos, haven't actually looked at anything yet. Did some volunteer training for ooch, my stint is coming up in July. Hmm yeah, basically, not doing any productive work (which I consider to be 2profiles and hwan.com) and spending a whole heck of a lot of time goofing around.

Not 100% true of course. My bicycle has received some much needed care and is riding fairly smoothly. I did manage to get yet another flat. One more and I'll replace the tire, which apparently is a cheap piece of rubber not too far removed from garbage. I straightened up the head piece, finding the quill to be quite the rusty hunk of metal. Bottom bracket axle needs changing. Replaced the brakes with a set that are hardly any better. Cleaned and re-greased the rear axle.

Ok, but seriously now, why is there so much road construction and what exactly are they doing? It really does seem that they're just making the streets worse for cyclists.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

fate of hdc, improvident

I've been wondering what to do with hwan.com, it being somewhat boring and tiresome to update. Do people even visit anymore? Well, whether they do or no, I'm going to give the site another facelift. Time to rise anew, my Frankenblog! I spent some of today tinkering with a JavaScript function that returns a calendar month in an HTML table, taking the year, month, and an array of values representing days that require links. A fun exercise. Next, I'm going to FINALLY build some utility classes/functions for handling the hwan.com entries. The current page code, while neat, is quite broken and a pain to use.

Things that have been going on? A lot of StarCraft, bicycle classes. Some reading done, some exercise. Very little socializing or shopping. Thinking about buying a place has made me rueful about my improvident spending habits. I wish there was an easy way to get a home.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Sarah Silverman Dreamme

I was walking home and fiddling with my iPhone when it slipped out of my hands and bounced into a storm grate. Scrambling on the floor I tried in vain to squeeze an arm through. I continued home distraught when I ran into Sarah Silverman. I don't actually recall sleeping with her but it may have happened, I'm not sure. There was another girl in the dream, in another setting, unnamed and faceless now, a sidenote in my imagination. I do remember coming back the next day to the grate and prying it open. I lowered myself gingerly into the water and lifted my iPhone out, shaking off the excess water. I don't look at it, for fear of what I might see. I've grown rather accustomed to it. Outside of the iPod functionality I primarily use it for its WiFi though I have been more active with taking pictures and posting them to twitter.

Speaking of which, I'm finding it very difficult to come up with material for hwan.com these days. It's just that there's not much to talk about, especially since I'm already diluting all Hwan-related news on either twitter or facebook. Or even tumblr. Well let's see. I got accepted to volunteer as a counsellor to Camp Ooch, which was surprising. I do worry that they accepted me only because they need more males at the camp. Being accepted also means filling out a bunch of paperwork and getting my Bronze Cross and First Aid certification. I haven't swam since.. uh, my trip to Florida? Is that right? Ughhhhhhh. Oh well, drowning isn't such an indignant way to die, is it?

Figures -- the first Jay game I watch this season has them down 10-2. Make that 11-2, Kansas City.

OH right.. I have begun the (mental) process of buying a home. Condo or house? Haven't decided. I have a little bit of money saved up and everyone seems to think I should get something. Ideally a condo close to downtown and walking distance groceries. A house would be nice but I doubt that I could find anything nice and in my price range. But yeah, I'm aiming for downtown or around that area, with where I am now (Roncesvalles) being at the far edge of my perimeter.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

it's like having a manga in your mouth

Monday I woke up at 5:30 in the morning and my sleep hasn't been quite the same since. Well, nearly the same in that I haven't gotten to work early for quite a while. I do enjoy getting there early (a rare happenstance), before anyone else, my tasks rolling and everything in the zone. Ah, to sleep on time. An alarm to go to bed! Someday I may actually do it.

Played a few ICCup games of StarCraft, did alright. My game has improved considerably, but I still need to practice my technical skills and micro. I've chosen Zerg as my race but the constant expanding and building is such a hassle, albeit a necessary one. It's seems obvious why so many players choose Protoss, with their simple, powerful units. Unfortunately I've only one friend at my level, but that's enough for us to both continue growing, building off the skills of the other.

I've also been reading the Battle Angel Alita manga. Addictive and thankfully not that long. I like that it deals with identity and what that means for the robotic kind. It's set in an incredibly violent world, one where losing one's body does not necessarily mean death. I only vaguely remember the movie, which, now that I think of it, compressed a lot into, ah... 54 minutes (Gunnm)! Perhaps I'll watch it again, purely to be amused by how much they watered down the plot. Right now I'm taking my time reading the manga, with its many lessons and insights. It doesn't tug at my heart like Lone Wolf and Cub did, but it does have its moments and, unlike Wolf, has one of those plots that eggs you to keep reading.

Oh hey I was at Velvet Underground this past Saturday. Gosh that place has hardly changed; same decor, same crowd. There was a band playing, clad in over the top Rock Band garb, their name as ridiculous as their hair. I rather wonder why I keep going back there.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

bicycle maintenance class notes

Bicycle class yesterday. Need to get a new chain and new brake cables, will want to tune-up the latter, install the former next class. Lots of characters. Story-filled old men, quiet young dudes, shady fellows. It's quite entertaining though I do find all the stories tiresome. Not the teacher though; I find him quite the sage.

Funny, I keep thinking I'll have something to say but I'm afraid I don't. No real tales to tell. OH I've been getting into the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Love the lead singer's voice, reminds me of Siouxsie Sioux. Zero, Maps, all the tracks are really right up my alley. I saw them play on last weeks Saturday Night Live and was impressed. Also I might start getting into Glass Candy as I am fairly in love with their version of Computer Love.

Yeah sorry, can't think of anything else worth mentioning right now. Mayhaps after the weekend?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

bachelor it up

I woke up and realized that I hardly drank anything today, Good Friday. At work it's easy to keep drinking -- water, coffee, juice, that's all we got and plenty of it. But at home it simply doesn't occur to me to make myself a drink. Perhaps subconsciously I just don't want to wash the cup. Whatever the reason, I hardly drank anything. Two cups of instant coffee( awful I know), that's it. So, a few glasses of watered down Tropicana and I'll return to bed.

I kept thinking it was Saturday, the day had all the trappings of one for me: no plans, no work, got up just before noon. Cleaned the apartment, did a little laundry, watched some TV, played some games. Good day.

I sure could go for some ramen right now.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

fixing my bicycle tire, again and again

So it turns out that having a hole in a bicycle tire tread causes the inner tube to explode when inflated. Two inner tubes later, I've replaced both the front and back treads and my bike feels very different. The new treads are tacky and stick amazingly to the road; almost too well as they kick up a lot of gravel, making a disheartening sound as the stones grind against the rain fenders. My attempt to clean the chain has resulted in a clunky ride -- the internals of the rear axle no longer spins freely. Not that I remember it doing so but it does dwell on my mind now.

I bought some MOO minicards and while I don't have much excuse to give them out I do find them fun to have. I'll need to remember next time however that they really do have very limited real estate for pictures as they managed to crop out the edges of the ones I'd uploaded. I also got that little keychain dispenser which is larger than I'd imagined but still quite neat.

Quiet weekend thus far. Had a Rowe Farms roast beef sandwich from Reggie's. Played several hours of go. Hoping to get some webwork done tomorrow, though I may have caught a cold as I rode today with my hair wet, the wind blustery and cool. Next Thursday is my first bicycle maintenance class and then the Love, Anna show. Nothing yet hooked for Good Friday weekend.

Monday, March 30, 2009

jury duty, making dumplings

I blame my tumblr.com page for the lack of updates. And Twitter. And FaceBook, though to a much lesser extent. Those are good places to check up on my "What's my mood?"-type updates. I've been meaning to add a link to my tumblr here. But obviously I'm too lazy to do it, though writing about it is no problem for me.

Making (and eating) dumplings. Pork, cabbage, scallions, hot peppers
Making (and eating) dumplings.
So that jury duty thing didn't turn out to be much of anything as we were dismissed early, there apparently being no need for us that week. I did a lot of sitting around trying to do work on a WiFi connection and, as such, not getting a whole lot done. The experience is very much like waiting for your flight at the airport, after you've passed customs -- you can't go anywhere, you're stuck in a big room with a bunch of strangers, and you're all waiting for your number to be called. I didn't really meet anyone there, but it was refreshing to be reminded of who exactly makes up the populace of Toronto: the frump, the disheveled, the ordinary. Groups and lines were quickly drawn -- a bunch of comic nerds at one table, a group of old ladies at the front, a quartet of mothers over there, etc. There weren't enough tables to make it a valid social experiment but the potential for data is there.

Friday night I was at Prohibition for drinks, including a few rounds of happy hour. Chatted with an off-duty RCMP officer. Saturday morning was a dental appointment where I found out that my teeth are getting a lot more sensitive. Made some Korean dumplings with my parents then taking a nap before going to mediaman's place. Had an awesome pasta dinner. Was late for someone's birthday party. Sunday I chilled around the city, though today has been MUCH the chillier. Seriously March, what's your problem??

Monday, March 23, 2009

microbatch communication

I was catching up on my 30 Rock viewing the other day and Liz Lemon said something to the effect of "...It used be that you only had to wait for a phone call. Now guys can ignore you with so many different devices..." e.g. Facebook, myspace, twitter, MSN. That insight struck a chord with me -- there really ARE so many ways to not meet people, to not talk to friends, to not communicate. Or perhaps micro-communicate, batch communicate. Microbatch communication? Publishing thoughts, 140 characters at a time. I feel a bit stretched thin.

Jury duty, indeed. Just the selection part mind you. They sit you in this big room with around 200 other people, waiting for your section to be called. I spent the first day fiddling with the laptop work lent me so that I could still be productive, though Remote Desktopping on One Zone high speed internet is an exercise in time travel, the bad kind where things sometimes take a while to catch up to where you are. I will be going to the courthouse for the rest of this week.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Watchmen and another flat tire

Wow, I'm taken aback by the vitriol that many critics are throwing at Watchmen, notably those on Rottentomatoes. Seriously, 43% on the tomatometer? Ouch. I enjoyed the film enough that I picked up a copy of the comic, something I'd always wanted to own but just never really had enough interest or reason to do so. I found it for half price, this latest reprint (the 22nd?) likely causing Alan Moore to spin in his grave, poor fellow. Still, from where does all this hate for the movie come from? I admit that it's not everyone's cup of tea but it's easily more entertaining than 90% of the junk out there. I don't watch that junk but I'm certain of the validity of my statement.

Bicycle season! And with it comes.. flat tires. My ride home from Koreatown somehow earned me a flat tire. I went to buy some wrenches today, but I got the wrong size. Perhaps the time to replace the tread is nigh.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

trying Mass Effect, enjoying Watchmen

I got sick on the weekend, some kind of flu-like thing that kept my energy levels way down. So low did I feel, depressing, morbid thoughts swimming about my head as I tossed and turned, unable to rest peacefully. All better now, thankfully yes. Now if only March would get back on track towards warmer days and nights.

Unwilling to venture outside I finally got around to installing and playing Mass Effect, BioWare's action RPG from 2007 and it is good. It reminds me strongly of Knights of the Old Republic which isn't that surprising -- why change a winning formula? Planets to explore, lots of crazy races and creatures, fun combat and easy inventory system, plenty of character dialog and development and NPC banter. A fair bit of walking in this one too, but I don't mind it all that much. I've only played about 10 hours or so worth and so far everything I've seen has been pretty delicious. The planet surveying brings to mind Star Control 2, what with the resource searching and such.

And speaking of seeing delicious things, I saw Watchmen and I REALLY liked it. It just may be the most awesome funtastic film of the year. Certainly the possibility is there. Smart adult action film, very true to the source material. Some may say too true, true to a fault perhaps but for me it was a joy to experience the material in movie form. The more I think about the film the more I smile. I liked it a lot and would see it again, easily.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

reading on my iPhone, anticipating the Watchmen movie

I am trying that Indigo shortcovers.com iPhone app and, while I do enjoy the actual reading of books on my phone, the software could really use some work. My biggest beef is that it connects to the server if you haven't opened the application for a while, even though all you want to do is continue with the page that was already downloaded. Which is itself another issue -- the app seems to only download a chapter at a time. Is it so hard to load pages in the background so that I never have to face a loading screen? The interface while reading manages to annoy me by taking up valuable real estate with an unnecessary menu bar at the top and bottom (guys, it's a touch-screen device; I don't need back and forward buttons). A Kindle-killer I think not. It especially doesn't help that the search engine for titles is dastardly poor.

Oh hey, yeah, The Watchmen this weekend. Not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I entirely expect the plot to be mangled and perhaps stripped of its beauty but I do plan on seeing the movie. I am concerned that they're turning it into a full-on action film, which I'd never really thought the graphic novel to be. I enjoyed 300 though so who knows? Hopefully it'll be better than the V for Vendetta adaptation. Although, to be fair, that was no easy task to take on.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

it's cold outside, a new view at work

Curse this weather! Until the day I howl for a cooler time I find these -24 windchills quite upsetting. Thankfully today is the last day for this zaniness, at least for the foreseeable, forecastable next few days. The cold troubled me yesterday during a workout, my ankles locking up as I stretched. It could just be the old in the them but I'm going to blame the chilly walk from St. Clair to Eglinton. St. Clair being where I participated in a group interview to volunteer for a camp counsellor position, something I kind of rashly (after much goading) decided to try for. I enjoyed myself enough, though I do wonder if my quiet (i.e. shy and introverted) nature appealed to the interviewers any. That reminds me, I need to look up what it'll take to get my Bronze Cross recertified. Hmm, it's changed since I took it. Which admittedly was back 1993.

The new office is fine. Did I mention they moved me to a new office? Well they did, it's on the floor beneath the main one, seats 8, has its own kitchen, bathroom and boardroom. There are now 3 of us in there now, not sure when we'll get more. You would think it would be quiet but actually in a much smaller space you hear your deskmates all the more. Eh, it's a change that I mind not much either way. I do get a nice view of the CN Tower, so I have my own LED light show when it gets dark.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

encountered The Belgariad

Huh, I saw another person reading one of the Belgariad books today, this time on the 504 streetcar. Seeing it really brought to mind how I loved that series, way way back when. Right now I'm actually reading The Fellowship of The Ring again, though I can't recall when I previously read it. No wait, I know exactly when it was -- when I was brushing up for the Peter Jackson movies! Oh me.

I've been fiddling a bit with the Luxury hwan.com theme. Unfortunately it makes this page look ugly if you don't have ClearType (or the equivalent) running on your machine. If it's too awful please let me know and I'll change it back or something.

I did a whole slew of sit-ups on my carpet and now I have a blister on my tailbone. Seriously, what is up with that??

Monday, February 23, 2009

Enjoying the Oscars, not Slumdog

I rather enjoyed that Oscars. Hugh Jackman, kudos to you, sir. Loved the intro song and dance routine. Kudos to Steve Martin and Tiny Fey, Ben Stiller. The reality television reviews before each actor award, hmmm, not sure about those. I liked it when the person giving the speech added their own personal touch to what sounded otherwise like a very robotic speech. OH big kudos to that little bit James Franco and Seth Rogen did, ha, that made me laugh. Also: domo arigato, mr roboto.

So Slumdog Millionaire was the big winner, eh? I guessed as much after that musical number they did but for a while I thought it was going to be a race between Milk and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I recently saw Slumdog Millionaire (as well as The Wrestler and Kung Fu Panda), and well... I would be hesitant to call it the Best Picture. It was entertaining, certainly, but it had a few things that didn't sit well me. Mostly I didn't think Dev Patel was very good -- wooden, bland, simple. Sorry guy!

Friday, February 20, 2009

webjos of the world, unite

Howdy. Winter still here, but a crack is there, letting light through.

After that Twestival shindig, I kind of got pulled into that meta-status world of Twitter, Blip.fm, and Tumblr. Contrasting Twitter and Facebook is an interesting exercise. I mean, Twitter is more about listening in on other people's thoughts while Facebook is this claustrophobic high school with kids showing off their latest works to each other, gossipy, glossy. To the internet, everyone! Let's all soak up that brilliant glow, those heavenly emissions. See what I see and despair! Or just take note of this mundane detail I've decided to fill the dead air with, it's just me wanting to get some attention from anyone Facebook decides should hear. Toronto! Snap out of it! Facebook isn't free -- you're spending your life reading notifications, one page refresh at a time.

I didn't mean for this to turn into a rant but I guess it kind of did. Me, a dinosaur of the blog/webjo age, already on my way out, dysfunctional, of little consequence. Justin said to publish yourself, and now we swim in a murky fog of people spewing out everything about themselves, so many signals shouting over one another so that they are all noise. It's spam in a non-commercial personal form. It's everyone pretending to pay attention to everyone else. It's writing tiny speeches that live for about 3 seconds. Why send an e-mail when you can write a bland, commitment-free message to no-one?

Well, here come the trivials. Uhm.... actually, can't think of any that I really want to write about. Routine is much the same. I joined a bicycle maintenance course for April/May with a friend. Ah crap, my school's symposium is during that time. Waiting for my passport renewal to get processed. Applied to volunteer at a kid's camp. Am catching up on Flight of the Conchords, 30 Rock, and The Office. Saw that Chocolate film by the Ong Bak dude and it was slightly too silly to be enjoyable.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Twestival

Last night I went to TwestivalTO held at Circa, a club where the old SegaCity used to be. I found out about the event mostly through boredom i.e. I was restless and used Facebook to find out what was going on in Toronto. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I envisioned a bunch of young male nerds with smartphones drinking domestic beers, crowding around the few women and/or texting/twittering constantly.  My assumption proved quite lacking regarding the male/female ratio but the incessant smartphone use was spot on. I also didn't expect to meet the Raptor ladies or to get on CityTV (their news site, anyway -- I'm not sure if the snippet was actually broadcast). Er, don't get too excited about that video link, as I don't actually say anything. Yes, immortalized holding my iPhone and a Jamesons.

All in all a memorable night, considering my reservations about attending a Facebook event. I do still have concerns over how much good for the charity (if indeed "charity : water" is a charity) these events actually do, especially considering the meagre amounts raised. Still, I suppose a little awareness and money for a probable good cause is a probable good thing.

Monday, February 09, 2009

an entry of little note(s)

Oh hey, ok, someone finally explained the "base metaphor" for dating in convenient image form: Base System. I remember mentioning my confusion about the system (but am unable to find the entry now), with only a homerun making any real sense. Seems I'm not the only one. Oh American sports and your zany wordplay!

Weather's warmed up somewhat eh? I took advantage of the fair air to work off a hangover Saturday afternoon by taking a run through High Park. Dear it was tough, arduous work! So very out of shape and now so very sore, mostly on my thighs. Haven't gotten the bicycle out, maybe will do later this week.

Oh hey I watch The Transporter for the first time yesterday. Was it yesterday? Yes. And while I enjoyed I also laughed at how incredibly silly it was. It just plain does not make any sense, none at all.

Picked up some new music, Sigur Ros and MGMT. Well, new to me anyways.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Waltz with Bashir

Wednesday night I saw Waltz with Bashir at the Carleton with some friends. I really liked the music and sound, which the animation made stand out -- every footstep and breath and bullet all the more audible. The beach memory music in particular I found haunting. Yeah, the first half or so of the movie I felt was excellent, when the memories are still just fragments, broken pieces that don't line up. It's when they start forming a coherent picture does the movie begin to turn into this .. well, lame, boring documentary. I had hoped that the final statement would be more profound or beautiful but alas, I did not find it so. Still, overall I quite enjoyed it.

I've also been playing a bit of Mount and Blade, this neat independent game, a sandboxed action RPG. The bit that brings me back to it is the mounted combat -- there's something very satisfying about riding circles around bandits and shooting arrows at them. I just.. I can't quite explain what it is. Fun. It's just fun.

I'm all in this Cormac McCarthy phase right now, having read 3 of his books thus far (No Country For Old Men, The Road, All The Pretty Horses) and recently obtained 2 more: The Crossing and Blood Meridian. I may quite possibly read all his books, they're that good.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Replacement iPhone, blackout, a close call on the highway

First things first, I got my new iPhone. I had lost my old one the night of my birthday, it having likely fallen out of my pocket into a taxi from the same pants I lost my trusty SCP-4000. Comfortable those pants but negligent in their holding of valuables! And I say "old", but I only had that iPhone for about 3 months, sigh. So, it turns out that to replace a 16 GB iPhone costs $650 CDN I kid you not. Once again I had to turn to Rogers customer service to rant about the price thrust upon me. After an anxious wait they offered me a refurbished one for $250 which I greedily took. It has since arrived and iTunes, surprisingly to me, restored all my files and setting properly and conveniently so that I am back to where I was, minus $250 but without the scratches and the wonky Home button my old iPhone had. Today I applied that Invisible Shield I had ordered on-line, a small project reminiscent of my days working with vinyl graphics.

Second things second, my apartment went without electricity for some 24 hours starting Thursday night when that water pipe or whatever burst. I went to work Friday early, though being cellphone-less and watch-less I could only guess what time I was leaving home. The plan was to try to make it to Kitchener for dinner and drinks with friends that evening but the streetcar ride home was held up because the power was STILL out in my area some 18 hours later. Pissed me to no end that did, but I managed to pull myself out of my rage and gather my things (with the aid of my bicycle lamp) and drove to KW to make a late dinner. I ended up having a good time, Starlight serving well at keeping me entertained thoughout the night.

I ended up staying much of the next day in KW, playing Xbox and eating and shopping. By early evening the weather had gotten quite ugly, the roads well snowed over, the street lines hidden, car tracks fading into black lines on white. It wasn't until Mississauga that I drove by an accident, a three-car collision taking up two 401 lanes. Some would take such a vision as a warning, but no, I kept on going on, zipping happily away at 80-100 km/h until, not more than a few minutes from the accident I started losing control of my Echo as I was switching lanes. My rear starting swerving wildly, so I attempted to keep my front tires pointing towards my forward travel vector, turning the wheel vigorously and automatically. The car would have none of it however and I suddenly found myself facing the wrong direction into oncoming traffic though still moving westward. Thankfully the other cars had all slowed down by now and kept their distance. I'm not sure how it happened but the car started to slip rear-first into the highway divider, visions of slamming into it entering my head even as I slammed the brakes. I spun the steering wheel in an effort to get the right facing and, thankfully, very quickly found myself facing west again, that blessed path. Breathing a sigh of relief I got up to speed and continued on my way, little evidence of my adventure though I'm sure my tracks would speak quite the tale. The whole thing probably happened in a space of 4 or 5 seconds though they felt eternal. I was lucky I had a lot of space to play with (it was that stretch between the 410 and 427, by the airport) and that no one was close by but MAN it spooked me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lost iPhone, birthday with family. Pirates!

Birthday was a quiet night out with a friend, playing pool and such. So much so that I seem to have misplaced my iPhone, yes precious. I briefly flirted with the idea of not getting a replacement but it seems nobody wants me to go without it. I miss the iPod functionality most and have turned to imeem.com for my temporary music fix. Oh, but back to my birthday. Yes very quiet and I have no recollection of the latter parts of the evening. Exactly.

Saturday I spent primarily in bed haunted by odd, unexpected dreams. In the late afternoon I was able to finally drag myself from my hangover grave to frantically clean my apartment before my family came over for dinner. My mom brought her usual serving of far more food than necessary, though all completely appreciated. Presents, yes. Nothing extravagant, some books, a plant, bowls, homemade cookies. Funny, I was so stressed trying to get my apartment in shape and it seemed to all work out and I guess I stressed for naught.

Sunday I spent finishing the second season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a really funny show. I mean, up there with Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Perhaps not as smart as Arrested Development, but up there in terms of laughs-per-minute. I know I suggest a lot of things, but this one gets a gold star IT'S THAT GOOD.

Oh, sure, still gaming here and there. I put a few hours into the remake of Sid Meier's Pirates, a game I'd always wanted to try. The game does stir my love of the Aubrey/Maturin series, though really only the sailing bits which are very well done. The other parts, such as sword fighting and dancing, play more like timing puzzles and lose their appeal once you get the hang of them, they being the mindless, reflex-based things they are.

Sleep! Lest we forget its worth allow this old salt to turn in.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Prince of Persia

For no real reason other than curiosity I installed Prince of Persia first. The graphics are as tasty as the screenshots. I love the animated oil painting design, and the colors are rich and summer-y, the scenery divine. The gameplay is somewhat mixed -- I'm not a huge fan of platformers, so all the jumping and running and climbing didn't do much for me. At first the instant respawning was quite nice, then the animation became annoying (because I died so frequently) and then it became an acceptable punishment as I got better, the animations less obtrusive. And, even though visually you can see quite far, it felt like a very small, tiny world since you could only stand in a few places here and there. The fights, again, beautiful to watch, but somewhat tiresome in practice. They were satisfying to win, sure, but they felt more like a timing puzzle than a battle.

I did like the banter between the Prince and Elika, at times comedic, other times serious, and later on playful and flirty. I am glad I hopped and wall-ran all the way through to the finish (about 10-15 hours of play) because the ending rewarded this weary heart. So much so I wish I could put the music on my iPhone, a sparkling token of the memory.

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Year's in Kitchener, Mirror's Edge

Yes, in the last minute throes of uncertainty, I went to Kitchener to hang out with Growl and company for New Year's Eve, thanks to an unsolicited last minute offer. The night was... largely, mostly, almost entirely uneventful. Drinks (SoCos) and shots (Jager bombs) were had. Photos were taken. Names were forgotten. Coats, mittens and scarves were lost. Words were slurred. Asses were slapped. Friends were reunited.

The day following the only nearby place to eat was Tim Horton's, Waterloo otherwise a ghost town. Growl and I then played some eight hours of Mirror's Edge, that new first-person parkour platformer. I have to say, it looks downright gorgeous -- such clean, simple designs and graphics, without any of that murkiness that seems so popular today. The game can be difficult at times but when you start getting the hang of wall-jumps and wall-running, well, it's an exhilarating, rewarding experience. As a tumbling/running/clambering-over-things game, it works quite well. The combat however I didn't care much for. Awkward and unnatural, particularly in contrast to the grace of the running parts. They should've just dropped the weapon firing altogether, keeping only the hand-to-hand for the player, such as the jump-drop-kick attack or the various disarms. Mirror's Edge's story is laughable, the script juvenile, and the action can be somewhat repetitive but otherwise the experience as a whole is definitely worth trying. This is one of those games that you find yourself holding your breath or even kicking your feet as you will your character over chasms or across tiny ledges.

Oh yes, I went to work today. Very quiet, perhaps the quietest day of the year. 2009! At least we're all getting older together. That is of some comfort.