Monday, September 26, 2005

139 Words and Change

I think I've finally discovered why I don't like reading or hearing about legalese. According to My Fair Lady, the case she is currently using for research has a sentence that is nine lines in length and 139 words. No, Dickens had no part in it.

It's an insanity ruling from 1895, back in the days when lawyers were apparently paid by the word. This, despite my extensive interest and knowledge of history, was something I was unaware of.

I think it explains pretty much every grievance against attorneys since the dawn of time. Each ruling is a mini Ark of the Covenant in its denseness. Any mere mortal who so seeketh to divine the meaning of such cases, would be struck dead, or at the very least left incoherently mumbling since their brain was crushed by the sheer difficulty in untangling these word mazes. My Fair Lady read me the aforementioned nine lines, and by line 2.5 I could feel the walls of my skull caving in. By the time she hit line 5.3, I was drooling.

I don't quite recall lines 7-9 so either she took pity on me and stopped or I blacked out.

Current lawyers no longer are paid by the word, but in reading any current ruling (by current I mean in the last century), you'd think that whoever decided to no longer pay based on verbiage would have at least told the lawyers they could keep things simple. If anything, current rulings seem to go on even longer than they did 100 years ago. Time has shown us many things, and currently it shows me that attorneys of all ages throughout the ages have never let their love of their own intelligence get in the way of simplicity.

I guess that's why My Fair Lady keeps me around. Whenever she asks my opinion on how she should proceed with a motion, I shout out "Fry 'em! If they're crazy, tell them it's a ride! They'll love it!"

Reason #108 why I could never be an attorney.

Friday, September 23, 2005

LOST Opens Hatch, Finds Big Can of Whoop-ass

Despite my headline, I was not the biggest fan of the LOST season 2 opener. I liked it overall, and certainly everything having to do with what was down the hatch and how it might relate to the island was awesome (no mean feat considering the build-up last year), but the rest just felt like filler. Nothing in a given episode of LOST is ever simply filler, and while that was absolutely true Wednesday night, it still felt the show runners were just killing time until the final reveal. Which in turn leaves us dying to see episode two which is where the meat AND the potatoes are. Annoying to say the least, but the show is nothing if not an elaborate tease. I’m a LOST junkie, but I’ve no qualms about calling it out when it does something stupid, or silly, or both.

But regardless of how I felt about the episode overall, ABC literally killed its competition Wednesday night. CNN has posted a story with the details and the other networks are now looking like the boneheads they are for trying to schedule anything against ABC’s new giant. Considering how hard the show hit last year, and the final build-up to opening the hatch, how the hell could any network think that a show might succeed against LOST’s second premier? That the condensing of the first season into an hour as a primer also drew huge numbers, and then the premier of Invasion after LOST also drew huge numbers, means ABC killed everything in its path Wednesday night.

Remember how big a hit the first season of Survivor was? It wasn’t at first, becoming one of the last shows to actually build all season long based solely on word of mouth. It also didn’t have anything in the way of competition during the summer either, and in so doing it let CBS stamp its logo on the heads of a large cross-section of the TV-viewing public, who from that point on would follow the show wherever it went. Hence it has done well on the Thursday night battleground, and when coupled with the right shows it’s proven time and again to be a formidable opponent.

I think the only show that can survive against LOST is Veronica Mars, another cult show in the spirit of Buffy that has inspired a small legion of devoted followers. I’m personally dying to check out the show, but LOST is my first love of the moment and unless it turns really stupid, Veronica will have to wait until I hit it in my NetFlix queue. Looking through the CNN story, FOX in their wisdom killed off “Head Cases” after only the second airing in that time slot. Probably for the best because Chris O’Donnell can’t act, and the Hebrew Hammer is only funny in short bursts at best.

I remain amused at how the networks continually battle each other and always lose, when simple war-time strategy is all it would take to satisfy their egos and the viewing public. Look for vulnerable points in rival networks’ schedules, and exploit them by scheduling high-profile shows there. Do not put a high-profile show against a brand-new juggernaut, because the juggernaut will win time and again. I think LOST is going to reign that time slot through the rest of this year, and possibly into next but that depends on whether JJ Abrahms tanks his show in the third season as he is wont to do. The nets are going to have to wait until next year at the earliest before trying to chink away at LOST’s armor. Just get out of the way, and attack elsewhere. I’ll post my suggestions later for how TV can win both viewers and satisfy egos all at the same time. Hardly scientific, but hopefully Sun Tzu would be proud.

Rita Comes Calling...

... and the crowds go crazy. The third most powerful hurricane on record blasted its way into the Gulf of Mexico this week, and aims to hit land right on the LA-TX border sometime later tonight. With it comes no small amount of wind and rain, and the already battered New Orleans might find itself dunked under water yet again.

Yet I still don’t know what’s happening in Mississippi and thank you, news media, for setting the country’s priorities on the straight and narrow once more. New Orleans was hit hard, true, but go back for a second and watch the instant replay. At the last second, it veered east and blasted the holy hell out of Biloxi and other towns. New Orleans at least is still standing. Water-logged, but standing. Can anyone say the same out of some of those Mississippi towns?

So why are we still focusing on The Big Easy? Harry Connick, Jr. and others can go down there, say how shocked they are (I’m merely using Connick as an example, as I did see him when he arrived in New Orleans and he’s not a good enough actor to fake the disbelief and anguish he felt), and report on the devastation and complain about the federal response to what is first and foremost a STATE issue (and Governor Blonco should take a hearty helping of blame for failing to declare an emergency days ahead of time despite everyone warning her, because the government could not move in until she did so), yet we ignore a larger amount of destruction that’s only a few miles away. Go figure.

Regardless, we in Texas and Louisiana are in the path of Katrina’s younger-but-equally-pissed sister, Rita. The fun part is where Rita is heading – right across the motherload of Gulf Coast oil platforms and refineries. The latest projections have the storm missing the largest of the refineries, but still putting the hurt on both states even further. Here is the projected path the latest projections have compiled. Dallas is already swollen to the point of bursting with the LA refugees, yet here come another several thousand from Houston and the gulf coast.

The funny part is now we might get a little rain, and maybe some wind, and that’s about it. Yet tell that to the checkout lady I spoke with at Tom Thumb last night. When I went in to do some weekly shopping (nothing disaster-related, we were just plain out of a few things), the entire place looked like it had been raided. When I was checking out, I asked the checkout lady what it was like earlier in the day. The look on her face suggested I’d inadvertently provoked a ‘Nam flashback. All of a sudden she was face down in a rice patty being shot at by VC while her squad called for immediate extraction, yet all she could do was hold the line and hope to live through it.

Maybe I’ve just been watching too many war movies lately.

At any rate, it looks like the disaster of Rita may miss us physically, but is sure has caused a disaster of another sort on I-45. Houston is legendary for its roads and freeways being under 24/7/365 construction, so it’s pretty bad all by itself. But no city infrastructure has ever been built with the idea of 2 million people either coming in or leaving all at the same time. As such, the Houston and Texas roadways have come to a complete stand-still, and it’s just unbelievable to watch. You always hear or read about miles and miles of stalled out traffic jams in end of the world stories, but somewhere in the back of your mind it still registers as fiction. You still believe that in the real world, people would be able to get away from the destruction and make it to safety to turn around and fight the ultimate evil that always shows up later.

From everything I’ve seen the last two days out of Houston, Randall Flagg can rest easy knowing that were Captain Tripps to start making the rounds, people would pretty much be screwed. But as the hero of this story, I would still find a way to kick his ass and keep my girl around at the same time, so rest easy knowing I’m on the job.

Whiteboyskim – defender of the universe. Respekt.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I think Will Ferrell’s 15 Minutes are Up

I just watched the rather shady quality trailer for The Producers on Sony’s site, and I no longer have any curiosity about the film. I think it will do well overall, though the Christmas release date is always a bad one, in my opinion. But I won’t see it, nor am I even remotely curious about it, and the reason can be summed up thusly: Will Ferrell as the Nazi playwrite.

I am one of the few people who never found Ferrell funny on SNL, though admittedly I never found Mike Myers, Jimmy Fallon, Molly Shannon, or any of the crew from the mid-90’s onward funny. I’ll confess to being a bit biased because when I started watching SNL, it was of the 1970’s "Not Ready For Primetime" crew in re-runs. Maybe it was because SNL started at the top that there was no where to go but down. Maybe it was because high-octane comedians are just naturally funnier when they’re flying high on cocaine (for example, compare Robin Williams’ latest piece on Broadway to his late ‘70’s shows or even his 1986 HBO spotlight and the difference is staggering).

Regardless, SNL has been neither funny nor particularly relevant for some time, despite the A+ effort head writer Tina Fey has put into the show in recent years. With the SNL players increasingly heading to the West Coast for big-screen glory, I can only hope that future generations of SNL prove far funnier than "names" like Ferrell.

Not that the bar is too high to jump over. Heck, if it were any lower you’d have to dig to find it.

When any comedian "hits" and becomes the "next big thing," there is a period where they appear in just about everything, regardless of whether they are right for the part. Then after several movies, they calm down the work load and take one or two movies a year until they decide to work even less and only make one movie every two years. For examples, look at Tom Hanks and Jim Carrey’s respective careers. While I think both are among the funniest men alive, Ferrell wouldn’t even register as a pimple on their asses. It’s not just that he’s not funny, it’s that he produces stone silence from me whenever he’s on screen.

It took the big screen debacle of "Bewitched" to take a lot of the luster off his star, but I wish it took the star as well. Sadly, we’ll have to endure him again later this year as the German playwright in Mel Brook’s musical version of his stage play based on his movie "The Producers." I truly love the original Gene Wilder-Zero Mostel film, despite it taking about 15 minutes to really get going. The basic story is two guys, a failed Broadway producer (Mostel) and his accountant (Wilder), decide to produce a guaranteed flop, then collect all the investment money, default on paying their investors, and retiring to the tropics. They set out to find the worst play of all time, and when they find it, it proves to be a doozy.

"Springtime for Hitler" is the name of the play, and from the description of it to the hiring of the worst director ever, to the casting of LSD, "The Producers" is gut-bustingly funny. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick seem to have perfect chemistry for the stage play, and I was curious to see the film based on it. But after watching Ferrell act like a loon for the umpteenth time, I’m done with him. He appears in anything as a major or supporting character, and I will not buy a ticket. Period.

I can only hope his star will either drop off the map, or ascend so high he’s only in one movie every two years. Either way, it’s easier to avoid him.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Fun with Atrophy

I feel like my leg muscles have atrophied in a big way. Last night was a whole mess of no fun, considering that I pseudo-slept the night away with a big lump in my throat courtesy of yet another sinus attack. Let me state again for the record that I hate my sinuses and have since birth.

Maybe I’m allergic to September, or maybe it’s Dallas, or both. It seems that going three days without DayQuill coursing through my system wasn’t the best idea, so my sinuses hit me again last night. Popped some DayQuill and a vitamin, then did the same this morning before I came in to work.

Now my legs feel like they’ll barely support me. Combine that with my outright exhaustion and no breakfast and I’m stunned to find I’m actually in a good mood. Odd how my personality works, eh?

The good news is that I don’t have to run a 5K today. The bad news is, it’s still 20 minutes before I can head out to lunch and even then I have a lengthy errand to run which will keep me away from food for probably another hour. Joy!

Maybe I’ve been looking at this the wrong way, sort of like the Clinton Administration did on terrorism. Whether you agree or not with how the Bush Administration have handled things, they at least correctly approached international terrorism as a war and not as a simple legal matter. I now must declare outright war on my sinuses, and for that I need food, and lots of it. Energy For the Cause. Viva le Revolution and all that. My Fair Lady has grown increasingly concerned that I’ve been losing too much weight, and not only does she have a point, but it finally hit me as to why.

These sinuses combined with sickness from two weeks ago have sapped a lot of strength and weight off my bones, and it’s time to put it all back. So while everyone else is concerned with losing weight, it’s again time for me to worry about putting it back on. In a former life, I must have been an actor who specialized in roles requiring weight loss/gain. If only I had the Oscar to prove it...

Monday, September 19, 2005

These Shoes Were Made For Tripping

It’s an odd thing to be unable to walk in a pair of shoes you purchased many moons in the past, yet have not worn for a while. That’s what happened to me all morning at work, and since I don’t drink, I’ve been unable to blame my stumbling around on a hangover. In thinking about it, maybe I should take up boozing. Other than making my job easier to endure, I’d have a good excuse as to why I’ve been stumbling all over the place today.

North Texas has about as much seismic activity as the dunes of the Sahara. The ground here dries up frequently which leads to houses shifting and large cracks forming in the ceiling, but we come up short on earthquakes each year. So why is it that the ground was moving left whenever I would go right today? If I hadn’t caught myself as I stumbled at one point in the men’s room, I’d have gone spelunking in the john.

The shoes themselves are nothing out of the ordinary, simply black dress shoes. Were My Fair Lady in the room, she could tell me what shade of black they were, who made them, where they were made, and how they make my butt look better based on how I stand in them. From my point of view, they were one of two pairs of black shoes I own, and they were closest to me when I opened the closet door this morning. And now I can barely walk in them without stumbling.

Should I wear the black pants I have on again this week, I think I’ll venture further into the closet and find the other pair of black shoes. Being able to walk fearlessly might be worth an extra step into the closet.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Weight Fluctuations

In college, I could down an entire Jack in the Box bacon ultimate cheeseburger, after an appetizer of chili cheese fries and an eggroll, and wash it down with a large Dr. Pepper, then still be hungry for dinner. I suspect that my collegiate diet might have worn down my stomach’s resistance to pretty much anything. Some things will now set my stomach off so I get to spend the next few hours in the men’s room, yet it can handle other things that would make the average person double over in pain. The fun part is I never know when either will occur so now every meal becomes a sort of Emeril Roulette.

After the last round of “stomach tomfoolery” which was a couple of weeks ago, I swore off fast food, and since then have lived up to my promise. The only places I now eat at that could be considered “fast” are Subway and Chick-Fil-A, neither of which have grease in the sandwiches I order, or are particularly quick in processing orders. I think all that grease and fat has finally passed through my system, because I haven’t felt any stomach pains in weeks and my weight has dropped.

I’ve felt a little less like myself for the past two or three weeks, but the reason why didn’t hit me until last week. After getting a haircut, a few people at work jokingly asked me if I was losing weight. Bear in mind that I went from shaggy to sharp overnight, and have a narrow, angular face with high cheekbones. When my hair is longer, it tends to give the impression of having more meat on my face than I guess I actually have.

So I weighed myself and found out that I actually have lost some weight over the past few weeks. As I sat there and thought about it, I came to realize something – all that fast food really did add up.

Go figure.

Now comes the part where I try to put some extra weight on, or at least turn the existing weight into muscle. The idea being a buffer, toner, me for next year. I hit the magic number 30 in 2007 and want to go into that decade healthier than I was in the previous one. Make no mistake – my 20’s have been all about abusing my body, but now that I’m closer to the end of my 20’s than I am to the beginning, it’s time to start thinking about the future. I always figured a diet like mine would cause my heart to go Alien on me about the time I hit 35, but it seems my stomach cut that plan short. Probably for the better since I’ve grown quite attached to My Fair Lady, and I don’t fancy the idea of her waking up one morning to find my chest exploded all over the credenza. I also have no idea what a “credenza” is per se, but it sounds like it fits in with my scenario.

Ideally, my 30’s will be healthier and stronger than my 20’s were. That’s the plan, anyway. My Fair Lady and I have talked at length about getting healthier and that includes joining a gym next year after she graduates law school. We share an attitude of grudging obedience to the needs for exercise, but we do it when we simultaneously pressure each other. Since neither of us like to waste money, we both figure that if we join a gym then we’ll have no reason not to go work out at least two or three times a week and tone up. It’s a solid plan, because it manages to both inspire us and prey on our weaknesses at the same time.

Exercise, thy name is "Devious."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

NewsCorp + IGN = High Comedy

The raucous sound of laughter on the internet today is from gamers the world over mocking Rupert Murdoch's $650 million buy out of IGN, Inc., which is about $630 million more than he should have paid for it. With that purchase comes ownership of several sites including IGN, FilePlanet, GameSpy, Rotten Tomatoes, AskMen.Com, and others. In one fell swoop, NewsCorp bought up a hearty chunk of the online gaming world, and if this isn't a sign of sheer desperation on the part of Big Conglomerates I don't know what is.

For all the complaining that people on the Right and the Left do about the current state of the US economy, no one seems willing to acknowledge that we lived through the Second Gold Rush, better known as The Internet Boom. The early to mid 1990's was truly when the internet exploded the world over. Everyone everywhere with access to a phone line had access to vast amounts of people and information, moreso than ever before. Overnight, companies popped up online and offered good and services that sometimes could barely keep up with demand, if at all. It mattered not a whit, as several of those sites were purchased for obscene amounts of money, and Wall Street traders reveled as their stocks soared higher and higher.

The funny thing is, no one looked behind the curtain until it was too late. Once that bubble burst, stocks across the board that were over-inflated rolled over and died, and millionaires became paupers overnight. At this point, you economists out there might be asking, "What does this quickie history lesson have to do with why you think NewsCorp. buying IGN is funny?"

Simple - they grossly overpaid for a terrifically underperforming octopus with so many tentacles that NewsCorp. must have figured their investment would pay off in some form. A big company like NewsCorp. doesn't do something like this unless they see an opportunity to strike gold.

Where they'll find the gold at IGN is unbeknownst to me. I know no one who goes out of their way to read IGN for anything insightful, they have hands-down one of the top three worst layouts on the web (and that includes porn sites), the infamous McGriddles episode ranks as one of the worst ad-crazy sprees ever witnessed, their writing is poor, and they care more about the "I'm first, you're not!" mentality than they do about gaming in general. I laugh when I read their grossly over-inflated scores, or when they say a game will change the face of gaming forever when all it actually is is an annual update to a stale franchise.

I have no idea what NewsCorp. has in store for IGN, but a healthy round of mass firings followed by a healthy redesign would be a strong first two steps. Bill Harris at Dubious Quality made a sound point on this today when he said that this also marks the entry of truly giant corporations into the gaming market. I have to agree on that, and his assessment that Walt Disney could actually buy out EA might be spot-on. Were that to happen, I would also laugh long and hard because EA is so bloated and utterly useless now as a game developer, that I will go out of my way to avoid in-house titles from them.

I'm sure the diamond in the rough might slip out sometime, but that's what reliable gamers on the internet are for. The ten-year-olds who spam the IGN boards thinking they're cool because they can write l337 remind me of the vaptards who frequent the Aint-It-Cool-News talk backs, which is one among many reasons why I go out of my way to find truth on the web.

Now that's a diamond in the rough. But if you can plough through enough junk out there, you'll be surprised at what you may find. I suspect it will take about six months before NewsCorp. realizes they've bought a hefty chunk of fool's gold thinking it was the real thing.

Tales from a Lawyer-in-Training's Spouse

I've been having great fun with My Fair Lady tonight because she has to deliver a speech Friday afternoon at school for a mock trial. The short version is she is delivering her closing argument in a case where her "client" was an apartment complex who was being sued by a woman that knowingly left her baby unattended next to a water faucet famous for spewing nothing but hot water.

If you think the baby managed to cook itself with the bath water and the woman then sued the complex out of refusal to accept personal responsibility, give yourself a cookie.

I took a swing at writing My Fair Lady's closing argument, but managed to side track myself by returning to variants of the phrase "hang the beyotch." Yet again, another reason why I would never make a solid attorney.

Lawyers on both sides of the court seem to have their BS meters turned off at some point in either their schooling or their experiences. This will be especially amusing to see happen to My Fair Lady because her's is so sensitive that she puts Robert DeNiro's Meet the Parents character to shame. I guess that comes from having a dad who worked white collar crimes for the FBI for close to 30 years. The man is one of the most laid back and relaxed people I've ever met, but to hear tales from My Fair Lady's youth, he was someone you never wanted to cross "back in the day."

That's pleasant to hear, because he still is required to pass quarterly shooting tests at the Dallas office's firing range which means he still knows how to kill me in one shot.

Apparently, she's now reading about how people are left-brained or right-brained and pointing out how lawyers are all left-brained and people who write about lawyers are all right-brained. I get the feeling she's talking down to me, but I stand by my initial statement that the chick in her case should get the chair. Hey, it may be inflammatory, but it also sounds good to me.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Fun with Sinus Attacks

I understand that God has an odd sense of humor. I get it, and frequently can even appreciate it. But I sincerely think He was out of His gourd when He thought sinus-related health issues might be good for a snicker. Every March-April and September-October I find myself hacking, sneezing uncontrollably, and blowing through enough Kleenexes to fill the New Orleans levees. Thus far, my 2005 record was spotless, and I was beginning to hope I would survive the year without an attack.

That hope was shattered at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday night when I discovered I could no longer breathe through my nose. The ability to breathe is not to be overlooked, nor should it ever be overrated.

Sunday wasn’t too bad as most of my symptoms dissipated, but I realize now they weren’t ready for their assault. Oh no. They backed off casually, called their friends, had them bring their friends, then thought it would be really funny to launch a full-scale attack on me Monday morning around 4:30 a.m. You know, right about the time people tend to be so deep into sleep a bomb next door won’t wake them up.

If human begins were designed by committee, then I want to find the SOB responsible for sinuses and kick the holy crap out of him/her. This stuff isn’t funny, and certainly not when it’s repeated a few times annually. I enjoy looking forward to Christmas. I do not enjoy looking forward to my sinuses beating me like a dog two or three times a year. Last year was even more fun than this one because normally it's My Fair Lady who has sinus problems the entire month of September, and our wedding date was Aug. 28. Think for a second and you’ll begin to understand how fortunate we were to post-pone our honeymoon until January.

DayQuill is my salvation, and I’m all about popping it like M&M’s. The box says to wait 12 hours between doses, but my body chemistry seems to react better if I stagger it every 6 hours for about three to four days straight. My Fair Lady disagrees with this self-diagnosis, but I do what works. Heavy doses of anti-sinus medication work for me, period. It may not work for you or your neighbor, but it works for me more times than not and so long as I have a chance of fighting this crap off then I’ll dance with the devil I know.

I’ve heard rumors of surgeries that correct sinus problems, but those same rumors tend to end with a variant of the phrase, "… after the swelling went down, I stuck a huge pair of pliers up my nose and pulled out the gauze." I am not so vein as to be afraid of swelling post-surgery, as I am (thankfully) no longer in the dating pool. But when people tell me there will be things left in my face from the surgery that I will later have to go in and forcibly remove with a tool my brother-in-law gave us as a wedding gift, I get concerned. I suppose if I were drunk enough, I might be able to pull that off (or out as the case may be). However, as the frequency of my drinking has been limited to one occasion in this lifetime, I would be more concerned with friends and family wanting to come over and video tape the whole thing and then stick it on the internet once I passed out from the pain.

Obviously, I would only do this were I alone with no video or camera equipment anywhere in the house.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

In the aftermath of what is now hailed as the worst natural disaster the United States has ever seen, much ado is being made of the humanitarian effort and the response time to it. These people are missing the point that around two million people (give or take) are now left with a whole lot of nothing to their lives courtesy of Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating storms ever to make landfall on the continental US. When all is said and done, I'm sure plenty of blame will be left over to go around.

For starters, why not lay it squarely at the feet of an architect ~250 years ago who thought it would be a good idea to build a city inside a bowl that's roughly six feet below sea level? Or at the feet of everyone in the 200 years since then who has gone out of their way to ignore the problem. In short, can it.

In other news, check out this satellite view of New Orleans courtesy of the NOAA and Dubious Quality. No, they're not partnered together (that I know of) but DQ crafter Bill Harris doesn't get enough love on the web these days. I am, of course, joking.

If I can figure out how to post pictures via Blogger, I'll do so of My Fair Lady and I's trip to the Big Easy roughly six days before Katrina blew it off the map. We left on a Monday, and by the following Sunday New Orleans was under 20 feet of water in some places. "Humbling" doesn't quite cover it, but if I can share the pictures we took, I will.

As you might have heard, donating to The Red Cross is about as strong a thing as you can do right now, but The Salvation Army is also accepting of anything and everything right now. Watching the news, people have generally said the same thing about how they were utterly wiped out. The people in the Texas refugee shelters have almost to a one stated how they might just stay. To all of them, I wish you the best of luck, and we Texans will do everything we can to help out. Godspeed to you all.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Microsoft Shoots Self in Foot. Aims for Other One.

It never ceases to amaze me how outright silly companies become the larger they grow. All grass-roots companies come across as scrappy, willing to fight the good fight to become huge successes, and all the while they mix in the good decisions with the bad. Then they incorporate, grow by a factor of 10, then promptly throw all good decision making out the window and try to get by on sheer force of name recognition.

How else to explain Microsoft's recent decisions regarding the XBox 360? By that I mean, any of their recent decisions, especially the latest one which has the console launched on November 25, 2005. You know it by another name:

Black Friday, aka The Day After Thanksgiving™. Roland Emmerich is probably looking to trademark that phrase as I type this.

One week earlier is all it would take to avoid this. Then they could consume every aspect of the gaming press and, more importantly, the mainstream media who will be looking for something else in the world besides the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But if The Xbox 360 launches on The Day After Thanksgiving™ then Microsoft will find itself sharing the spotlight with the usual news stories from that time of the year. Make no mistake about it - Microsoft CAN NOT AFFORD to share ANY amount of spotlight time with ANYONE that's not talking about the 360. They simply have too much time, energy, and money invested in it to have it be an "in other news..." story. Microsoft simply must have this console succeed beyond its wildest dreams to stem the immense financial bleeding from the current generation, but they seem hell-bent on making sure their own console is doomed to fail from the start.

The word via this story at IGN, who I never consiously point to as a bastion of investigative journalism, is that Microsoft doesn't even have final development kits out to the various game developers.
Why the late date? Microsoft is hoping to give developers as much time as possible to finish and polish their games while simultaneously shipping their concave new box during the most active day in North America. Additionally, independent sources have told IGN that final dev kits haven't replaced the mid-summer beta kits, which has added to developers' frustrations.
What that translates to is a bunch of launch titles that may only scratch the surface of the 360's power. In other words, nothing spectactular enough to blow us all away right from the get-go. I've seen the screenshots from Oblivion and the next Project Gotham Racing, but if no one is coding for the final hardware which is, to be blunt, staggeringly powerful, what will games look like two years from now?

Those are the ones I'm interested in, period. None of this short-term incremental stuff we're going to see come November and December interests me, and that includes Oblivion. Its predecessor Morrowind was aptly nicknamed Boreowind until the mod community added the fun, but that's a topic for another time. At present, Microsoft is asking us to bite the bullet on a brand new console system that's a year ahead of our normal 5-year-plan, is at least $100 more expensive than what we paid last time, and has an initial run of games that might work or might not because they were created using dev kits that were no where near finalized, all for the sake of beating Sony to the punch.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. All Sony has to do is shut up, and put out a stellar system at either $399 or $450 next summer, and point out that not only are all of their games truly next-gen, but that it came with the future in mind. As evidenced by certain developers already bitching about current DVD technology lacking the storage capacity to support next-gen games, the 360 might wind up dated before it hits the street. That's yet another blow to Microsoft's image this time around, and it's certainly not an appearance they can afford to have. If they don't get their act together and soon, then they'll have between six and eight months to capture as much of the market as they can before the 800-lb gorilla unleashes on them next year.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Anniversaries, Romance, and You

Gentlemen, please indulge me for a second or three in educating you in the finer points of romance as it relates to anniversaries. Women are, by design, a fickle collective. One minute you can do no wrong in their eyes ever, then they blink and you're the destroyer of worlds. Yet time and again they prove to us why they are worth enduring for, and as such we men persevere. We will never understand the woman's mind, nor should we. Some mysteries God created simply as a challenge to us, while others were meant simply to make Him laugh. I'll let you decide into which category Understanding Women falls, but my money says it's in the same boat as the platypus.

As regards anniversaries, I've discovered that women in general tend to be prone towards sentimentality, whereas men do not. I, for one, am about as anti-sentimental as it's possible to get. If I travel somewhere that holds a special place in my heart, a simple, yet specific, token is all that is required. Meanwhile, My Fair Lady requires us to purchase a separate suitcase to store all of the trinkets and mementos of the journey.

Not that there is anything inherently wrong with this, but it makes traveling abroad more interesting than I was initially led to believe it could be.

Women, and My Fair Lady in particular, like anniversaries. It's important to remember to either create a prospective anniversary on an easy to remember date, or write it down and tattoo it someplace on your body that you see at least five times each day. Don't worry about her, she'll remember it forever. No need to remind her either, as if she's kind, she'll start reminding you about it two months ahead of time. If she's unkind, then she'll wait until 12:01 a.m. the day AFTER the anniversary to remind you that you missed it and that the couch will be your home for the foreseeable future.

Should you be one of the fortunate few to have actually partaken of my advice, and can anticipate an anniversary, it's important to remember that wherever you go on the blessed day, you absolutely will be expected to mention that it is your anniversary. This is never more true than wedding anniversaries, with the first one being the key one. The 17th is in no way as important as that first one, with the next major one being the 5th, then the 10th, and so forth.

I'm just saying. Good luck, and good day.