Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Movin' on up.

Well, here we are. I've got a lot to cover, so this is going to be a long one. Go make a cup of tea or a rum and coke or something, because you're gonna need about half an hour.

After a couple of weeks of abortive stops and starts, Katie having called in family members as diverse as her mother, her step-aunt, and her step-cousin for advice and support, it looks like we've finally nailed down a new apartment in Manhattan.

I've had a song going in my head since yesterday.

Yeah, that's the one.

(While we're not actually moving to the East Side, it's debatable whether the second storey qualifies as "the sky", and I don't like fish, I still feel some kinship with George and Weezie.)

Backstory: when we first moved to New York, the chief concern for Katie and her mom in doing the apartment hunting (I wasn't a part of the process because I was busy in Newfoundland securing legal entry to Murka) was proximity to my place of work, in Queens. Now, as we've learned since, Queens is the largest borough in New York City, and the neighbourhoods of Astoria and Glendale are quite a ways apart from each other.

Regardless, it was in Glendale we ended up, surrounded by the dead. Glendale is a lovely, quiet neighbourhood. Our landlady is an absolute sweetheart, if a little slow-moving when it comes to repairs and such. (Which, I suppose, is similar to criticizing milk for being white.) We have neighbours whose company we legitimately enjoy.

BUT, the hour-and-a-half commute is killing us. I work in DUMBO, and Katie's on the Upper West Side. We needed to move.

We found the 'perfect' apartment last Saturday. A two-bedroom around the corner from family/friends Emily and Derrick. $1500 a month. $1250 broker's fee. We felt we could swing it, got the application in on Monday, lost out to someone who applied on Sunday.


But things work in weird ways. After the fact, I was researching the management company (who would have effectively been our landlords) on one of the internets, and lo and behold, scores of blog posts about how XYZ Management are "a bunch of fucking slumlords" and "stay far away from 000 Something Ave [the very building we were looking at]."

Days pass. Craigslist was pored over. E-mails were sent. On this Saturday past we looked at apartments in our desired neighbourhood again.

The result was an absolutely massive one-bedroom on the same block as the one we missed out on (but not in the same building). The rent is only slightly higher than what we're paying now, and it includes heat and hot water (which we currently pay for separately). Plus, no broker's fee. 25 minutes will get Katie to work, about 45 for me. We sign the lease on Thursday. (There was a bit of additional drama regarding some unreasonable expectations on the landlord's part regarding what constitutes 'adequate' personal savings, but we were lucky enough to know some very cool people who proved clearly that teamwork makes it happen.)

So, that's the big news from New York. So long dental plan Glendale, Lisa needs braces hello, Inwood! Photos, videos, and hilarious commentary on several local street names forthcoming (i.e. the intersection of Seaman and Cumming LOL).

On to the rest of the world.

A fantastic birthday present that you can actually buy and read:
There are also, allegedly, ninjas in it. Adam want.

Observe! The Cajun Crawler: "Like a Segway, but with a dozen creepy feet."

Let us discuss free games. Those who care not for games can go fuck themselves may skip this part.

There is something called Dwarf Fortress. The sheer size and scope of the game causes my head to spin. I spent a few minutes reading the tutorial, and I fear it. I fear it in the way I once feared World of Warcraft, a primal fear that my very soul would be devoured were I to venture too near its blinding brightness. Having proven that I am man enough to both play World of Warcraft and also lead a sensible and reasonably normal life at the same time, I edge closer to Dwarf Fortress each day, and my anxiety grows. I fear I am lost.

More accessible, less potentially-time-consuming, are our friends the Flash games:

In Music Catch 2, you must catch yellow notes while avoiding red ones. Music plays. It is soothing.

Loops of Zen is also soothing, in a maddening sort of way. Turn things until they make no sense. Suddenly, a breakthrough, and you see the pattern briefly before being thrown to the next meaningless jumble of lines. Is that zen? I am ignorant.

Bowja the Ninja 2: In Big Man's Compound is not particularly soothing, but you can take your time and you never die. I finished it in about fifteen minutes. A standard click-on-the-right-thing-at-the-right-time game.

Ultimate Crab Battle is not soothing. It is batshit insane. Good God. Never let go of the A key.

There seems to be something of a vogue going around the video game websites lately. Chemistry.
I Heart Chaos has assembled a periodic table with video game characters instead of elements. It's colorful and fun. It will serve as a desktop background.
The reason I call it a vogue rather than an oddity is the fact that someone else created a thematically-similar if less brightly-colored periodic table featuring a timeline of game console controllers. It's interesting to look at, but less ideal for downloading and sticking on your computer's desktop.

People who play video games are often very, very stupid. Nothing evidences this truth more than fanboyism, wherein a person chooses a side and then sticks with it through thick and thin, the nerd equivalent of rooting for a given pro sports team.

Nor do I claim to be immune to fanboyism. In my formative years, I had a NES, and my neighbour Darrell Whitten had a Sega Master System. He thought the Sega games were great, and I knew that a system featuring Mario, Link, Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior and Startropics had to be superior. Even now, in my sage wisdom, I refuse to consider purchasing an Xbox 360, not because I have any particular affection for Sony's ridiculously-priced monolith, but more because I think Microsoft has quite enough money (which they use to create hilarious pranks like Windows Vista), thank you very much.

That said, the way some people talk to each other about video games makes my heart hurt. "HAY U GUISE R ALL GHEY WITH UR HOMO PS3S LOL" or "wii is so gay its only for littel kids", and their ilk succeed in offending on many, many levels. Which is why it was refreshing to find these cute cartoons on, of all places, the IGN comment boards. (Do not click that link. It is not worth your time.) I repost them here in the spirit of camaraderie.
The Xbox 360 sick in bed with the Red Ring of Death made me laugh out loud, and the last one reminded me that I really am going to have to pick up a second-hand Dreamcast sometime in the future.

A shout-out is due to the person who created Fuck You, Penguin. Good work, lad.

I will leave you with the frank and honest statement that I do not know what the fuck this is.

But I very much want to watch the whole thing.

That's all! Exciting times ahead!

Now fuck off.

Love, Adam
You'll need to have _six months'_ rent in the bank to even be considered. Fuck. That.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Penis. No, I mean... wait...

Well, we might as well go ahead and get it all out of our systems. Doctor Manhattan, like most males, has a penis. He rocks out with his cock out. I was afraid that they would wimp out and make him wear clothes through the whole film, but they didn't. Good for them. It was mildly irritating when, during dramatic moments, the chuckleheads sitting in front of us would notice Jon's blue manhood wagging about and burst into Beavis-and-Butthead style "uhuhuhuh" laughter.

Also worrying was the large number of small children in the theatre as we watched this (deservedly) R-rated movie. I'm frequently amazed at how poorly some people parent their children. In a similar vein to the legally brain-dead parents who allow their kids to play games like Grand Theft Auto and then act surprised when they stab their sister over a Nintendo DS (or not), Katie and I actually sat next to a group of four children, aged approximately 6-11 years. One of the kids was sucking his thumb, and another took a fairly expensive nap. Meanwhile, on screen, Nite Owl is putting the blocks to Silk Spectre in the Owlship, Rorshach is planting a meat cleaver into a child-killer's forehead, everybody's saying "fuck" and "shit" like they're contributing to this website, and let's not forget Doc Manhattan's big blue thang. Sigh. And yes, I'm aware that I'm being sort of hypocritical, accusing people of bad parenting when I don't have kids myself, but fuck that. This movie was not appropriate for kids, based solely on the level of violence.

Which leads us neatly into my brief critique of the film. If you plan on seeing it, have never read the comic, and don't want things spoiled, then go watch the movie or read the book and come back afterwards.

I liked it. I can actually make this faster by saying that I liked it all, with the exception of the following elements:
• Malin Åkerman - was apparently cast more for her physical resemblance to Silk Spectre II then for her acting ability; successfully took one of the two most important and deep characters from the comic book and reduced her to two facial expressions; such a shame.
• the violence - I am a big fan of fictional violence in general, but the comic purposefully veered away from excess in favor of a more realistic portrayal; Nite Owl pulled a Jet Li, busting-the-elbow-through-the skin move that made no sense; Silk Spectre stabbed a guy in the throat; the violence was a bit over-glorified, where I think its portrayal as ugly-but-sometimes-necessary would have been more effective.
• the "super" heroes - in the novel, there was Doctor Manhattan, and then there was everyone else; there was exactly one superhero (perhaps two if you count Ozymandias' metahuman reflexes, but that's more of an amazingly-well-trained thing, like Batman), but in the film, the Comedian, Nite Owl, and Silk Spectre all exhibit greater-than-average strength, which I thought was silly and tried to drag the movie into the same genre with Batman and Iron Man, where it does not belong, any more than the comic should be placed on the same shelf with the latest X-Men crossover.
• the ending - I don't think it was bad, it was just different; the replacement of the giant alien squid with Ozymandias' vilification of Doctor Manhattan made sense in that it kept Jon as the lynchpin which the entire story turned on, and that's fine; I just felt that the catastrophe lost a lot of its viscerality, since, in the novel, the alien squid thing dies and kills half of New York, but it doesn't actually destroy anything: there are just piles and piles of twisted human bodies; the movie sanitizes this a bit by having large portions of several cities be vaporized, resulting in a (perhaps satisfyingly?) cleaner rebuilding-New-York shot towards the end that wears its post-September 11th sensibility plain on its sleeve.

All that said, I liked the film, and I will watch it again when it becomes available on DVD. Therefore...

Final score: 10.
(I know that was a lot to read. Sorry; here, have some pictures and videos.)
We had guests. Paul and Stephanie trekked down from Halifax for a week, carting wee little Colin along for the ride. Sadly, Colin is a drunk. Shame. We actually didn't get any photos of the trip, so I'll have to hit up Paul's flickr... stream.. or whatever. It was lovely to have visitors, though, and we can't wait to darken their doorway someday soon.

Speaking of wee little things! Our oven gave out a couple of weeks ago. We told our landlady. Nothing happened for a while. Suddenly, we're told we're getting a new stove! Hooray, right?
Not so much. Now our kitchen looks like it had one of its teeth knocked out. Christ's sake. Ah, well. I hear Inwood's nice...

The internet continues to vomit forth its bounty.

Shopping Cart Hero doesn't do lots, but what it does, it does well. Go down the hill, go up in the air, try not to die.

Don't Shit Your Pants probably doesn't need much explanation. If you've ever played Maniac Mansion, Police Quest, or any of those old Sierra or LucasArts games, then you should be fine.

Someone very clever mocked up an intro for a faux-80s Saturday-morning Watchmen cartoon.

There is a person in the world who performs video game theme songs a cappella and with a ukulele, and this person is, alarmingly, not me.

In more distressing news, sadness suffuses my soul:
Without the Green Lantern Ring, how will I open my beer defend the Earth from aliens? *whinewhine*

We'll have to depend on Kitty, I suppose.

That's all the time I have today, kids! Keep in touch!

Now fuck off.

Love, Adam
Not enough mana!