Thursday, October 28, 2004

Pokey the Penguin!!

Pokey the Penguin is probably my favorite web comic, and now that it's being updated again, it gets a permanent home in my Links section. Whoever draws these seems to get tired of them after a while, and lets the site go for months on end without adding anything at all to it, then goes rapid-fire for weeks. As for the comic itself, you'll either get it or you won't. If you get it, you don't need it explained to you, and if you don't get it, it can't be explained to you. Take a look and see which category you fall under.

(Note that if you don't get it, it's probably because you're too smart for it, not because you aren't smart enough.)

World Series

Damn Red Sox.

I guess if you're going to go on an eight-game winning streak, the ALCS and World Series is as good a time as any.

The worst part is I have a couple of friends who are legitimate Red Sox fans, one particularly die-hard. Now I'm going to have to hear about this at least until April, and probably until next October.

My only hope now is that the Eagles don't win the Super Bowl in January. If that happens, then I'll know that God truly hates me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Dark Tower

Over the weekend, I finally began reading The Dark Tower, the seventh and final book in Stephen King's masterful epic fantasy of the same name.

For my money, King is probably the best fiction author since Shakespeare. All of his stories, horror or other, just have a way of putting the reader inside his characters' heads in such a way that they seem true to life and really stay with you after you've finished the story. This is such an exceptional gift, and even moreso in a fantasy work like the Dark Tower series, where the characters are less like anything readers would find familiar.

I read the first book in this series (The Gunslinger) when I was not quite twelve years old, so I've been waiting for quite literally 14 years for the end of this story. (And it was first published in 1980, if my memory is correct--so a lot of folks have been waiting even longer than I have.) Amazing, really. I can't think of any other stories from when I was that age that still hold my interest to this day. (Star Wars might be the exception to that. Might.)

In fact, Star Wars is even a valid comparison--last year, King went back to to the beginning of the series, and revised, expanded, and updated it to bring it in line with the rest of the series, both in terms of "voice/theme" (vague concepts that I'm fairly sure only English majors can define in words, but most readers notice if a book is lacking in either of these) and to fix some errors in continuity with later works. So of course, I had to start over from the beginning of the series, just to make sure all the details were fresh in my mind before beginning the tale's end, and I'm pleased to report that unlike George Lucas's meddling, King's changes will probably not piss off a significant portion of his fan base. The plot is left unchanged (a few small incidental scenes are added, but there's no "Greedo shooting first"-style nonsense) and the "flow" (another one of those abstract terms) is much-improved, but that's about it.

For those who haven't delved into this series, I heartily recommend you start, especially if you're a fan of King's other works, because a good portion of them (well over half, I'd estimate) overlap with this series in at least some small way. Four in particular are "must-reads", however, for this series. I'd recommend reading The Talisman and Black House together (both are co-written with Peter Straub, and the latter is a direct sequel to the former) between the time you read The Waste Land (Book 3) and Wizard and Glass (Book 4). 'Salem's Lot is a must-read before Wolves of the Calla (Book 5), as there are parts of Calla that follow directly from 'Salem, making it a sort of half-sequel. And before entering the final volume of the Tower saga, be sure to read Hearts in Atlantis. Atlantis is really four novellas that follow along a story thread, and Dark Tower 7 follows one of those stories closely enough to be called a true sequel to that book, as well as to the other books in its own series.

I'm only about halfway through Volume 7 at this point, but without giving anything away, it's every bit as good as I expected. Highly recommended to King fans as well as sci-fi/fantasy junkies.

Monday, October 25, 2004

John Kerry, Sports Expert

I'm sorry, but this guy is just so easy to make fun of.

I've already showed you John Kerry, Soccer Star. And I'm sure you've already seen this picture of John Kerry, football hero.

As a diehard lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, he introduced the world to his favorite player, Manny Ortez.

And who knew that the Green Bay Packers' home stadium wasn't named for Earl "Curly" Lambeau? In fact, Kerry tells us, they play at Lambert Field.

John Kerry: a great American sportsman.

Sunday, October 24, 2004


I'm not big on drug references, but am I the only one who finds it funny that the distance to the centerfield end of the Green Monster is 420 feet?

Friday, October 22, 2004


I found a link to this on the control panel when I went in to do my first blog entry last night. It's National Novel Writing Month. The challenge: to write a 50,000 word novel between midnight November 1st and midnight November 30th. I can't help thinking, from time to time, that I must have at least one hack mystery rattling around my head somewhere. I'm seriously thinking about signing up.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bring it on...

It seems that one of the main political parties in Egypt (another of our supposed allies) has a high-ranking official who's endorsing the attacks on American soldiers and hostage-taking in Iraq.

Not much else to say about this. There are a lot of Islamo-fascists who hate us, and they're not restricted to any one country. Our only hope is to stop them, at any cost, before they can make prophecies like this come true.

Hat tip to Choozoo for the link.

Whoopsie daisy...

Cuba's Communist leader is apparently trying out for a position in pratfall comedy.

I wonder if they'll get Chevy Chase to play him on SNL one of these nights.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Still thinking of voting for Kerry?

Come on, now.

Do you really want this guy to be the most powerful leader in the free world? (hat tip to Abaddon)

Stupid announcing

In the last two nights, I've watched 27 innings of the Yankees-Red Sox series. That's enough extra innings to make a third game. And in that time, I've learned something. Tim McCarver is a big douchebag. Game 6 of the ALCS is tonight, and I'm going to be keeping track of all the idiotic things he says and will post them here for your edification.

And Joe Buck is no great shakes either. But at least he did those funny Budweiser commercials with Leon.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Beer Buy

I love the little liquor store on the corner near my house. Good prices, decent selection, and a staff that knows me by sight. And every once in a while, I find a pleasant surprise like the one I found this weekend.

They're offering microbrews for $12 a case--that's only a little more than the likes of PBR and Old Milwaukee, and cheaper than "mainstream beers" like Miller and Bud. I ended up with a mixed case of sixpacks of Abita Turbo Dog and In Heat Wheat and Old Scratch Amber Lager from Flying Dog Brewery.

My G-Men have a bye this week, but I'm still going to enjoy these great beers while I root against the hated Eagles and cheer on the players from my fantasy teams.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Double your reading pleasure today, with links and my own unique brand of commentary on not one but two, that's right, TWO stories about regular firearms (not assault weapons, about which even I have a few misgivings) and the wacko politically correct crowd that would like nothing more than to see anything that shoots melted down into toasters, microwaves, and other kitchen appliances.

First, we go to Londonderry, New Hampshire, where a student's photo has been banned from the senior section of his high school yearbook simply because he was posing with his shotgun in a traditional safe pose with the gun broken open (and unable to fire in that position). Now, I grant you, the picture does make him look like a bit of an ignorant hillbilly, but that's his choice (and after all, there's a little bit of ignorant hillbilly in all of us). This is a hunting weapon that he obviously uses for sporting pursuits. If he was pointing it at the camera and his caption was a hit list, that would be one thing. But this, as Bill O'Reilly would say, is ridiculous.

Then, in Pine Bush, New York, a student has been suspended from his school for having his Civil War costume in the trunk of the car he drove to school. The reason? The costume included a replica musket. That's right, a replica--designed to shoot blanks. I couldn't find a story that indicates it could even fire a real bullet.

Removed from a yearbook and suspended from school simply because of their hobbies...what's the nation coming to?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Who's Your Daddy?

The Yankees are up 1-0 in the AL Championship Series against the hated Red Sox. (This is a good thing, too, since I've got money on the Yankees to take the series.) And if you want one more reason to root for the Yankees and not the Red Sox (who, by the way, will lose the series, since Babe Ruth's house was demolished yesterday--this can only piss him off and strengthen his curse), here's another one: their fans are such crybabies that Major League Baseball is recalling a particular Yankees T-shirt.

See, over the summer, Sox ace Pedro Martinez lost a game against the Yanks, and after the game told reporters, ""Call the Yankees my daddy. I can't find a way to beat them at this point." So really, Pedro brought the shirt on himself (and on his team, for that matter.) But Boston's fans "reacted negatively" (my translation: responded in a manner that makes the pacifier on the shirt appropriate), MLB pulled the shirts, and now they're selling on EBay for way more than they're worth.

And in the wake of all this controversy, Pedro has to start tonight. In Yankee Stadium. All you fans going to the game tonight...give him a chant for me. I'll cheer along from my couch:

"Who's your dad-dee?" *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAPCLAPCLAP*

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Party games

I ran across this neat little game while browsing the Wikipedia last night. I might have to try it out the next time I have a big party. Of course, at my house, it'll be turned into a drinking game.

Tribes: Vengeance

Last week, I finally got my hands on a game I've been waiting a long time for--Tribes: Vengeance. The original Starsiege Tribes was one of the first multiplayer games that I ever participated in, and in fact was the beginning of my association with the August Knights. I was a full-fledged member by the time Tribes 2 was released, and I got many, many hours of enjoyment out of that one. T2 was my first experience playing organized ladder competition--we had a ladder team that did fairly well, especially considering that we only practiced once or twice a week. The first two games were a very unique blend of action and strategy, with a myriad of potential kit loadouts, vehicles, deployable objects, and an atmosphere that, to me, was more like a sport (Capture the Flag was the most popular game variant) than an actual shoot-'em-up. The maps were huge, and some servers had 50 or more people playing on each side.

T:V is actually a prequel, and for the first time, there's an expansive single player mode. It does a good job of giving you a chance to practice various skills ang game types, and the story is pretty good so far, if a little cliched. But of course, T:V is first and foremost a multiplayer game, and that's where it really shines. The maps are a bit smaller this time around--it's designed to have fewer players and faster paced play, and it certainly delivers on that count. All the classic variants are there--Capture the Flag, Capture and Hold (similar to the Conquest game type in the Battlefield series of games), Rabbit (when I was a kid, we used to play a game similar to this with a football called Smear the Queer), and, for the first time, a football/soccer hybrid sort of game. There are lots of new weapons and vehicles, and a lot of old favorites are back. The graphics are great, and it doesn't require a big honking hog of a system to run nicely.

The only major negative for my money is the lack of deployable objects. In Tribes 1 and 2, setting up a sensor web and turrets was a key part of flag defense. There are deployable mines and turrets, but I've really missed the deployable objects that have been removed. Fortunately, it looks like the mod community will be able to operate full-force on this game; hopefully they'll be able to add a bit more of the complexity that made the first two games so great. I'm also not crazy about the way the backpacks work (each one has a passive mode and a VERY short-lived active mode that can be triggered on demand), but I think I'll get used to that in time.

This one's definitely worth a look.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Reviewed: Chili Beer

I finished off the six-pack of Chili Beer yesterday with the Giants game, and I have to say, it really wasn't bad. My friend Faxman posted a link to some awful reviews of it over at Beer Advocate in Friday's comment section, but I didn't find some of the problems others mentioned. Let me first make it clear that I'm not a beer connoisseur. I certainly enjoy a good microbrew or other expensive, tasty beer, but I usually end up drinking the common brands you see advertised during football games, if not even cheaper beers (PBR, Milwaukee's Best,Old Milwaukee, etc.)

But I did enjoy this beer. Some of the Beer Advocate reviews indicated that the peppers weren't fresh, and had sunk to the bottom of the bottle by the time the beer was purchased. My peppers were floating in the necks. The beer was OK quality, and it certainly wasn't the spiciest thing I've ever tasted. I wouldn't recommend drinking more than one or two in a single sitting, because it is spicy enough to give you heartburn if you're prone to that sort of thing. At $8 for a six pack, it's a neat novelty, but it won't be on regular purchase list. One last plus: I kept the beer-infused peppers in a baggie in my fridge. Those little peppers will come in very handy this week when I make chili!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Chili Beer?

I made it home from work, and I'm about to kick off my Friday evening ritual: a Scotch (currently it's Scoresby), a relaxing album (this week, it's Ray Charles's last album, Genius Loves Company), and a book (my current ambitious project is to re-read Stephen King's entire Dark Tower series to date, culminating with my first read of the final volume, The Dark Tower). But before I do, I wanted to post something interesting I found when I stopped off at my local liquor store for a six-pack: Chili Beer.

That's right, Chili Beer. From looking at the bottles and the website, it looks similar to Corona...only instead of a lime, you're supposed to drink it with the chili pepper that comes in each bottle. I'll probably drink it later tonight, and I'll let you know how it turns out.


I've had this site linked pretty much since the beginning, but my friend Hylander has come up with a pretty neat use for his web site. Instead of being a typical little-of-everything style blog (like this one), he's created a really neat daily journal of online privacy and security issues. The reason it gets a plug today: Hylander has posted an antivirus and malware primer guide. It's a worthwhile read, whether to learn as a beginner or to brush up as an expert.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Friday Night Fights (aka Debates)

Who was the genius responsible for scheduling the next presidential debate for a Friday night during prime time? I mean, come on, if great shows like Firefly, Dark Angel, and Boomtown couldn't get anyone to tune in on Friday nights, what chance do a couple of politicians arguing with each other have? Add in the fact that the debate is going directly up against a playoff game featuring the New York Yankees (who have arguably the largest bandwagon fan contingent of any single sports team), and it'll be a miracle if anyone tunes in at all.

Thank God I have TiVo--I can watch it on Saturday morning while I recover from Friday night...and post my thoughts here, of course.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

So much for the draft...

If you get as much spam e-mail and forwards from friends and family as I do, by now you've no doubt seen the one predicting dire tidings, especially for men around my age, due to the return of the draft to fight the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Actually, I would probably be at very little risk for any draft--I'm 25 years old and out of shape. The military would probably want me about as much as the NFL would.) It's fairly obvious that the forwarded e-mails floating around the 'Net were dreamed up by some liberal to scare undecideds who are draft age themselves or parents of draft age children into voting against Bush come November.

Well, you can put those fears to rest. The bill (which was actually introduced into committee by Congressman Charles Rangel, a New York state Democrat, as a protest of the war in Iraq) was forced to the floor and voted down, including by one of the House Democrats who co-sponsored it.

Good riddance to a lousy piece of potential legislation that did little more than spark inflammatory rumors and rhetoric.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ho hum...

There's a vice presidential debate tonight, but I won't be watching. Frankly, I don't care much for either Cheney or Edwards. Bush could have deflected a lot of criticism of his administration by changing VP candidates for this election. His loyalty to Cheney is admiriable, but I do think that a lot of the criticism of Cheney is justified. As for Edwards, well, slick trial lawyers aren't my idea of good politicians.

Besides, the first game of the Yankees-Twins AL division series is on tonight.

Monday, October 04, 2004


I saw an ad for a cool little invention in the ad pages of Maximum PC magazine. It's called the Liberator, and it's a nifty little gizmo that turns those big bulky AC adapter blocks into regular sized power plugs, allowing maximum capacity on your outlets and surge protectors. CyberGuys has them for $9 for a five-pack (admittedly, with shipping, it probably ends up in the $10-15 range). I'm thinking about picking some up for my computer room; I've got several bulky plugs up there.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Sunday football

My Giants won again today. If you'd have told me at the beginning of this season that they'd start 3-1, I'd have called you an optimistic fool. They looked terrible over the entire preseason, and really didn't play all that well during week 1 against the Eagles. But they looked great today; in fact, if it wasn't for a few struggles near the end zone and two missed field goals by Steve Christie (more on that in a minute), they could have won by even more than seven points. Warner has played great football so far, and Tiki Barber went over 180 yards rushing today, winning Tom Jackson's Prime Time Player on NFL Prime Time tonight. You can help him win this week's Sunday Stud award...just go here and vote--the poll is about halfway down the page near the right side.

There was one dark cloud in today's win, though, and his name was Steve Christie. Late in the game, when it would have really taken a lot of pressure off the D, he missed two field goals from 30 and 33 yards. I've been sour on him from day one (and, in fact, I called my father after the game to give him a "told ya so"). He doesn't have a strong leg, he's over the hill, and in fact had planned to retire before the Giants picked him up. Hopefully Tom Coughlin's level of patience with him will be as low as mine. I wonder what Todd France is doing. I'll bet Coach Coughlin is wishing he hadn't cut him at the end of the preseason.

My fantasy teams did better this week than they did last week, but the final score is in for my team in my friend Pat's league. I lost by just under 20 points, thanks in large part to the awesome performance by his New England Patriots defense--they earned him 23 points, including 8 on the fumble recovery TD late in the 4th quarter. My team in the August Knights league is faring a little better. At the kickoff of tonight's Rams-Falcons game, I was up by about 33 points. But that's been cut down some since then--my opponent has Marc Bulger and Marshall Faulk playing tonight, and Tony Gonzalez and kicker Matt Stover playing in tomorrow's Monday night game.

I guess maybe it's just the fact that I'm a rookie to all this fantasy football stuff, but man alive, do my teams ever need a shot in the arm. I've made a bunch of personnel changes (most of them due to injury), but I'm particularly weak at the wide receiver position, and I only have one running back in Pat's league that I can count on for a consistent performance. Does anyone have any ideas about who I could pick up or trade for to salvage this season?

Parking Spots

Here's an odd little site of photos of Matchbox cars taken to look like they're parking in spots for real cars.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Home Improvement Saturday

Whew! Busy day for ol' Beastie today. I started out by repairing one of my dressers--one of the crosspieces that supports the second drawer from the bottom fell off, so the drawer was kind of hanging out there. A couple of wood screws and a couple of minutes with my cordless drill/screwdriver (my favorite tool), and the job was done.

Next, on to the fridge. As I mentioned on Thursday, the shelf rails for my fridge door arrived, but they were too long. So I attached the sawblade to my Ryobi reciprocating saw (my second favorite tool), measured twice (my high school shop teachers would be proud), and cut 'em down to size. It's amazing how much space I freed up just by adding two shelves on the fridge door and one on the freezer door. It went so well that I'll probably order more rails to finish out the fridge door...I've got the site bookmarked.

Last stop: my enclosed front patio. The latch on the storm door has never worked quite right ever since I bought my house, but over the last couple of months, it broke completely. It wasn't a big deal at first, but when the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne passed through here on Tuesday, the door blew open no less than five times. That was the last straw, so off I went to Home Depot to buy a new latch. A simple easy off, easy on job, right? Of course not. The spring in the catch was apparently shot for a while before I moved in, but rather than replace it (or even replace the entire latch system), the previous owners attached a block of wood to the doorjamb so that it would stick out far enough to catch. All well and good, but when I installed the new latch, it protruded far enough to prevent the door from closing. After a mighty struggle (my drill and its backup battery both ran out of juice during the process), I was able to remove it, but then it didn't protrude far enough to catch at all. A desperate search of my basement (as a last-ditch effort before a return trip to Home Depot) turned up a thinner piece of wood that I cut down to size with my Ryobi saw, and voila!...perfect fit.

I even managed to get the low-hanging TV and Ethernet cables running through my basement more or less out of the way!

So it's time for my little reward--a takeout sushi dinner (complete with a six-pack of Sapporo and Return of the Jedi on DVD. (I watched A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back last night, but was just too tired to watch RotJ.) Then tomorrow it's off to Dave & Busters in Philly with some friends to watch the Giants-Packers game. I may get cracked with a bottle, what with being in Philly and all, but I'm going to wear my Giants T-shirt. Go G-men!!