Rock Star
Monday, December 03, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
I haven't posted in a long time, so here's an update on all things game-related:

1) Finally got around to getting my Xbox 360. I bought one of the newer ones that come bundled with Forza 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance. This serves two purposes: one - this means that the box is probably newer and thus less prone to the "Red Ring of Death"; two - I get Forza 2 for free, which is good because I love the first one and definitely would have bought 2. Free is always better, though.

2) Speaking of free, I finally bit the bullet on the 360 purchase because Micro$oft had a slick deal where they are giving away free copies of Halo 3 to original Xbox Live people who buy the new 360 system and migrate their original Xbox Live account to a Gold account. So, congrats Micro$oft promo monkeys - you got me. I'm psyched to play Halo 3, but I can wait for my free copy.

3) I've been working my way through Rock Band with my boy this week. Overall, the concept is great and the song selection is top notch so far. I hate the new guitar controller and will likely go back to the Guitar Hero one, once I get around to buying it. I have some minor complaints about the game - mostly some usability stuff with their menu system and irritation that the controllers are wired, thus causing a tangled mess on my living room floor that my cat feels compelled to chew on. Still, I'm pretty happy with the game and recommend it for anyone who is a Guitar Hero fan.

4) Got myself the PC version of Valve's Orange Box, which comes with Half Life 2, HL2 episode 1, HL2 episode 2, Team Fortress and Portal. I'm slowly working my way through HL2, though it makes me nauseous if I play too long (too much spinning around). Portal is quite simply amazing. It's like the love child of a FPS and a puzzle game. Great stuff. My only complaint is that it's so short - I played through the whole thing in 6-8 hours or so. It's so fun that it's almost cruel when it ends so quickly. I hope that Valve releases it as a full game soon.

5) Color me wildly impressed with Xbox Live on the 360. I've got it set up to stream video, music and pictures from my media center PC upstairs (I love driving in Forza with my own personal soundtrack in the background). The Arcade Live games are great - love the idea of being able to play trial versions of the game. I treated myself to a full version of Lumines Live. I'm contemplating Uno, but can't be sure if it's worth the money, since Uno may get a bit boring after awhile.

6) I made a strategic error listing all the games I wanted for the 360 on my Amazon wish list. Now I can't buy them until after Dec 25th, just in case the family comes through and gets them for me. I desperately want to play Mass Effect and Gears of War ASAP.
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Pedal to the metal
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
In an effort to get my fat ass in shape (or at least keep it from going up any more sizes), I decided to take advantage of The Boy's absence by getting out for some nice long bike rides. Below is a great ride I had on Monday. I actually got motivated and hit the trail by 8:30. I crossed over into the District around 9:20 or so. It was great because there was no traffic (none of the museums and attractions were open yet) and I could ride down major streets like Independence Avenue without a car in sight.

On a side note, I finally got around to the seeing the FDR memorial as part of my ride. Wow, that is one awesome memorial. It even has a waterfall. Take that Lincoln and Jefferson! Ha!

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All New Music Spectacular
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
Despite Blogger's claim that it saves all your drafts automatically, it still ate my last one. Grrrr....

Anyhoo, after a long creative drought in the music industry, all of a sudden all my favorite acts have released albums in the last month or so. Here's my take on some of them:

1) Tegan and Sara - "The Con"
My favorite new album this year. They are the best identical twin lesbian Canadian musicians out there right now. Their lyrics are always great - for example, "I might have been something you'd be good at." Download "Back In Your Head" and prepare to bop along to the groovy tune.

2) Rilo Kiley - "Under the Blacklight"
Great new album from one of my favorites. Not quite equal to "More Adventurous" (or Jenny Lewis's amazing "Rabbit Fur Coat") but still awesome. Download the title track and "Moneymaker".

3) Kelly Clarkson - "My December"
I know Kelly took a lot of shit for this album, for a variety of reasons, but overall it's still better than 80% of the crap out there right now. Download "Sober" for a rocking power ballad, and "Never Again" for something more in the "Since U Been Gone" vein.

4) New Pornographers - "Challengers"
I haven't had a chance to really sit and listen to this one yet, but I'm very excited to hear it. I will post a more thorough review once I do.

As a side note, while you're waiting for my comments on this album, go listen to Neko Case's amazing "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood".

5) Maroon 5 - "It Won't Be Soon Before Long"
I know it's lame to like this band, but honestly - this album kicks butt. It's funky and poppy. Very cool music. Adam Levine is still a little douche-y, if you ask me, but the band's got soul.
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What kind of liberal are you?
Monday, July 16, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

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Did you forget the cover sheet for your TPS report?
Thursday, April 05, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
Behold the funniest thing I've played in awhile:

Kill Yourself in 5 Minutes. Those bastards at Adult Swim are magnificent.
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A Sedor Darkly
Tuesday, February 06, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
I recently tried my hand at this cool tutorial I found over at the Adobe Illustrator site. I figured I'd finally put my Wacom graphics tablet to good use with a challenging project.

On top you can see the original photo I used as inspiration.

Underneath is the one I drew using Illustrator.

All in all, it was a pretty fun project. It took me about 6 hours to complete. I'm not totally happy with the colors, but I figure I'll get better as I play with it. If you want to try this as well, here's the link to the tutorial.
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Man talk 101
Monday, January 29, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
Sweet Jesus mother of God. I found this article on Yahoo today. Apparently men speak in code at all times and you must know these four basic rules to understand what they are really trying to say.

1. Men like to talk about sports
2. Men like to quote movies
3. Men like to talk about sex (but not their significant others)
4. Men like to trash talk

So. I suppose if you could invent a sentence that incorporates all four of the above, you'd have any man eating out of your hand. "Hey, I was totally making a move on this hottie with a giant rack, but she shot me down and it was like, 'Game over, man!', which is also how I felt after the Saints lost to the Bears, 16 to 42, which is also the score of our last foozball game, where I totally schooled you, loser."
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Love and Terror, 24 Style
Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
So, a new season of 24 is upon us. I have a love-hate relationship with this show. On one hand, it's compelling, edge-of-your-seat type of action. Jack Bauer is awesome - a TV version of Jack Maclane from the Die Hard movies, really, since the man is clearly indestructable. However, the show has a nasty habit of taking torture a bit too glibly and pretty much ignores the ethical/moral implications of having the "hero" turn to torture the minute he needs information from a hostile. See, Jack's always right, because the guy is always eeeeeeee-vil (read: deserving of torture) and he always cracks and gives Jack the exact intel he's looking for. So, Jack never has to question his methods (thus we the audience, by extension, are also relieved from questioning). It's squiggy, given the real world reality that torture is a heinous act that is arguably never justified (moral argument) and has been shown to give less than ideal results, because people will confess to anything, including false things, just to make the pain stop (logical argument).

Anyhoo, enough high level thoughts. 24 works best when we just turn our brains off and accept that it resembles the real world exactly 0%. I mean, no one can get across LA in a car in 15 minutes. It violates all laws of physics.

Each season is pretty much the same:

  • Hour 1: Intro the players. Who's the new president? Who's in at CTU this year? Hint at conflict to come

  • Hour 2: Intro eeeeeee-vil villian #1. He seems bad, but is really a henchman in the bigger plot to Destory Freedom. The bad guys inexplicably decide to bring Jack Bauer, the only man in the world capable of defeating them, into the mix. Usually they frame him for something bad (see: seasons 1,5), bring his family/friends into it (see: seasons 1, 4, 5) or just seem to want revenge (see: seasons 1,3,5,6).

  • Hours 3-6: Evil plot #1 revealed. Usually something dramatic, i.e. nukes, killer viruses, more nukes, nerve gas, and even more nukes. Government moles 1-3 introduced (along with Red Herrings 1-6).

  • Hours 7-12: Evil plot #1 resolved, as Evil plot #2 (a.k.a. "the True Threat") is revealed. It usually involves high-level government corruption (see: Season 2's World Conspiracy headed by Lady Palmer, Season 4's Robocop contractor and Season 5's slimy president). A key character that the audience feels strongly about is killed in a shocking fashion. Hour 12 often culminates with a "holy shit!" moment.

  • Hours 13-20: The chase is on, as Kiefer encounters increasingly more difficult obstacles. Somehow, he takes down the bad guy and saves the world

  • Hours 21-24: Wrap up time. Bad guys get their comeuppance. Good guys celebrate. Jack Bauer is rewarded for saving the world by having Something Really Bad happen to him, leaving him a broken man going into the next season. Something Really Bads from past seasons:

    1. His pregnant wife is murdered by Nina the Mole (who Jack had an affair with once upon a time). Meanwhile, Spawn (his stupid stupid daughter) lives. Not fair!

    2. Spawn lives, despite the best efforts of one noble cougar. Meanwhile, his secret boyfriend President Palmer, is struck down by the assassin Naked Mandy

    3. Jack is forced to cut off his partner's hand to save his life, causing trauma all around. Spawn STILL lives and is injury free.

    4. Jack is forced to fake his death, since the Chinese are looking for payback, after he was forced to kill one of their diplomats. He can't even tell his hot fiance goodbye.

    5. After saving us from the EVIL president, Jack is captured by the Chinese and taken away for Torture Summer Camp

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I'll try not to "Shrute-it-up" this time
Monday, January 15, 2007 | Author: Mad Typist
Okay, so I'm back after a long hiatus. I've recently joined the ranks of the landed gentry - I am now the proud owner of a lovely 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home in Alexandria, VA. Woo hoo! Allegedly there's a drug dealer a few doors down, but other than that, the neighborhood seems pretty nice.

To kick off the new year here at Cultural Cuisinart, I offer summary judgment, in the form of a top 5 list:

My Top 5 shows

  • The Office - I am actually really enjoying the newcomers and hope they stick around. Karen is not only hot, but she's cool and smart, so even though ultimately Jim and Pam will get together, I hope they keep Karen around.

  • 30 Rock - A lot of people gave up on this show too early. I know I almost did. The first 2-3 episodes were lackluster at best. But then a funny thing happened - the show got really really GOOD. "Blind Date" remains my favorite, but subsequent episodes have also been great. Alec Baldwin is one funny bitch. This show is the Little Engine That Could. It totally snuck up on me, and I'm almost shocked at how much I anticipate new episodes.

  • Battlestar Galactica - Awesome for more reasons than can be listed at this time.

  • Ugly Betty - America Ferrera is great. This show is everything that is fun about soap operas, with many of the bad elements (poor dialogue, bad actors) removed. Vanessa Williams and her poodle-haired assistant Marc often steal the show with their snarky antics. Another great surprise among new shows.

  • Deadliest Catch - What can I say? It's just riveting TV. And I think I might have just a teeny tiny crush on Captain Sig Hansen.

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