November 30, 2003

Many fine deals

In Florida, Wal-Mart had a 'blitz' sale where they sold DVD players for $30 on the day after Thanksgiving. When the doors opened at 6am, a woman was trampled by the crowd and is still hospitalized.

On Friday, I was in downtown San Francisco, about a block away from Union Street, in a crush of a thousand people swarming up and down Powell Street. It was a Castro at Halloween type crowd - intoxicated and frenzied. Families of four or five people were struggling to stay together and would call out the names of their favorite stores they pushed past.

November 27, 2003


Mathworld has this kick-ass page on special numbers and number theory.

Maybe that wasn't the greatest sell.

But how great is it that we've got folks who can spend time finding and naming special numbers like the Vampire Number. A vampire number is one with an even number of digits that is the product of a combination of its digits. So, 1260 is a vampire number because 21 x 60 = 1260.

Here's the great part. If a number is a vampire number, the pair of numbers multiplied together to form it are called its fangs. Fangs! Mathematicians are wacky.

They've also got some fascinating info about the Beast Number, 666.

I'd never before heard the theory that the reason it's 666 is because in roman numerals it contains one of each symbol (sans M): DCLXVI.

I'm a believer!

November 25, 2003

Revenge of the Lank

Steve Yuhan is blogging again! I'm hoping he's finally broken through that barrier at law school where you actually have free time before graduating and starting the 80 hour weeks.

Steve's gonna be working at PaulWeiss next year so maybe he can get to the bottom of the infamous sushi memo when he gets there.

November 20, 2003


In the PS2 game, Ico, you're a behorned kid that must escort a princess through a giant castle.

It's the best game ever made.

Recently, I played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time which reminded me a lot of Ico as you're a very athletic kid who occasionally escorts a princess through a giant castle, engaging in acrobatic ass whoopin' along the way. The acrobatics are particularly nice - lots of swinging, wall running, Ninja Gaiden-style wall-hopping.

But, the whooping of ass is a little formulaic. The baddies are slow and telegraph their moves in a "Grr! I'm swinging this hammer around my head cause soon I'm gonna try and hit you" sort of way. The first time you run up a sand troll's belly to slo-mo flip over his head and slice him up on the way down, it's impressive. When you realize that that's all you need to do to beat 80% of the bad guys, it's a bit tedious.

Prince of Persia's level design is expansive and beautiful - doing flips while balancing atop the Ultimate Tower of Doom at sunset is breathtaking in both a pretty and a "that's gonna hurt" way. And they do the little stuff well, like leaving trails of dust behind you after you wall scramble and doing clever things to avoid the feeling of load times.

Finally, you can unlock a fully-playable version of the first Prince of Persia game. Which certainly is cool, but man did I quickly grow frustrated. I don't know what we were all doing before analog controls. I ended up humping the wall repeatedly because I'd overrun the place where I needed to jump - something I remember being endlessly amusing when I first played the game on my Mac SE. Less fun now.

November 19, 2003

Farewell to an old, decrepit friend

Today I sold the '89 Camry that I had shipped out to California back in May. A car with 150K miles on it wasn't up to the daily grind of a 70 mile round-trip commute. It's brakes needed to be replaced, the muffler was shot, it needed a new radiator and the driver's side door lock had been turned into a gaping hole by folks looking to steal the fat load of nothing I kept in my car.

So, farewell.

I'm happy that I was able to unload it without any hassle and that its new owner is a grizzled hippie mechanic who will make the necessary repairs and turn the car over to a young cousin just learning to drive.


MGM announced that they're planning a 2004 spoof of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter called Henry Bates and the Sorcerer's Balls.

Heard about this from Josh Cagan who managed to get more jokes out of the announcement than there will be in the entire movie. Good work.

November 17, 2003


My former debate partner, Anna, is blogging her little heart out. It's quite the treat when friends you don't get to see very often start posting bits of themselves to the interweb. I feel there's a future in this business.

Regarding her question about whether there's any food that's better prepared on the East Coast, the answer is pizza. Hasn't been a good pizza in California since I flew back from visting Jonny B in Chicago with a chunk of a thick-crust stuck in my teeth.

November 12, 2003


Biz has made it across the country, all the way to Mountain View. I didn't realize that along the way he left an audblog post from Iowa in which he bagged on 2 Mid-Western institutions.

First off, Steak n' Shake is incredible. I mean sure, not a safe haven for vegans given the foodstuffs it's named after. But trying to impale the maraschino cherry at the bottom of an orange freeze is one of my fonder childhood challenges.

Second, the convenience store named Kum n' Go. Okay ... this really isn't a Mid-West institution. I only ran across one once when visiting Matt in Kirksville. But its name and the fact that the locals refered to it as the Ejaculate n' Evacuate captures both the irony-free superficiality of the Mid-West and its underlying sad wit soul.

Ah, home.

Update: My mom tells me that in her day they refered to Steak n' Shake as Stoke n' Choke. I'm trying not to think about what this phrase meant to the youth with whom my mom parked back in said day.

November 11, 2003

Moons over my hammy

According to the IHT, the director of Brazilian staging of Tristan und Isolde mooned the audience when he was booed on opening night.

His opera seems fairly ridiculous ... a woman masturbates during the overture, there's a chorus of Hasidic Jews - it sounds like Springtime for Hitler, but for real. So, you know, maybe booing was appropriate.

What's wacky is that he'd now being tried on indecent exposure charges ... in Brazil! Where, I've been told, the whole country's indecently exposed.

What's next? Folks getting charged for public drunkeness in Scotland? Excessive cheese-eating in France? Crude national stereotyping in America?!

November 05, 2003

Good enough

Jason Sutter gave me the Goonies DVD for my birthday and I'd been trying to hold off watching the commentary, but finally succumbed to temptation this past weekend when I found myself uncharacteristically bereft of fresh Netflix.

The DVD does not disappoint.

The commentary features all of the original kids ... even Short Round from Temple of Doom. What's more, they videotaped the commentary session so the movie will occassionally go into picture-in-picture mode so you can bathe in all of Sean Astin's plumpness and Corey Feldman's assholic irrelevance.

Sean Astin's the big highlight here. Apparently, he's not well liked. At all.

Repeatedly he will start to tell a story - usually one that starts off very promisingly such as "Cyndi Lauper, there's something I've always wanted to tell you" - only to be cut-off and trounced by someone else in the cast. People just talk over him and if he persists they'll throw in some kinda Rudy or Samwise Gamgee jibe to really shut him up. Even Jeff "Chunk" Cohen gets in on the action. This is a guy who never appeared in movies again, went on to win student body president on a "Vote for Chunk" campaign and is now a lawyer of some kind. He gets to beat up on the Son of Gomez.

I think it has something to do with Sean Astin being the only commercially successful actor left from the cast. There's a lot of "in this scene, you can almost hear Sean thinking about what this movie means for his career." Which really makes not a ton of sense as before he landed the role of Frodo's manfriend, he most recently portrayed Hercules in the video game Kingdom Hearts.

Eventually all the abuse proves too much for the omega hobbit and he bails on the commentary session well before his dramatic speech at the bottom of the Wishing Well. The man quits the commentary!

This does not lessen the abuse.

Also on the DVD is the epic, two-part music video for Cyndi Lauper's theme song, Good Enough. It picks up where Girls Just Wanna Have fun left off ... that is with Captain Lou Albano. The whole thing last twelve minutes and ends with Andre the Giant scaring off the Iron Sheik and Rowdy Roddy Piper who play both pirates and evil foreign investors. It's all very confusing.